SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador closed 2009 with a historic number of 4,365 homicides, the highest in 10 years, the PNC national police force said on Saturday.
A police force official confirmed the number of murders, an average of 12 per day and surpassing the figures for violent deaths in the last decade, and added that during the first day this year another 15 people were slain.
According to official statistics, there were 3,802 murders in 2005, 3,928 in 2006, 3,497 in 2007, and 3,179 in 2008.
October was the most violent month last year with 435 murders, the PNC said.
In November the government of Mauricio Funes, which took office on June 1, 2009, decided to use some 2,000 soldiers to help the police in tasks of citizen protection in the municipalities hardest hit by criminals.
El deputy chief of the PNC, Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde, told the press Friday that the military aid has been “positive,” but that its reach “is not so great so as to expect a reduction (of murders) nationwide.”
Funes has said that since the beginning of 2009 the number of murders has shot up, and as a result promised to change the security policies that have been in place in recent years.
He also promised that during his administration he will back the prevention of violence with a number of programs for young people and for the economic development of the poorest sectors of the population.
Authorities say that most crimes in the country are perpetrated by the Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 street gangs, the biggest operating here, as well as by other groups linked to drug trafficking.