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El Salvador marks its first murder-free day in three years

El Salvador's murder rates have reached alarming levels of up to 18 per day over the past few years.

Mexico violence death murder rate 11 7 29Enlarge
A criminal investigators takes pictures of a body with a mask in the street, one of numerous murders over a 24 hour period, on March 26, 2010 in Juarez, Mexico. (Spencer Platt/AFP/Getty Images)

El Salvador marked its first murder-free day in three years on Saturday, the only one recorded since the country's leftist leader took office in June 2009, the Guardian reported

"After years when the number of murders reached alarming levels of up to 18 per day, we saw not one homicide in the country," President Mauricio Funes said in a statement on Sunday. President Funes was at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia this weekend when he commented on the news. 

At the beginning of Funes' term, the country had an average of 12 murders a day, but that number escalated to around 18 per day in early 2012, Reuters reported

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The Central American country, which shares borders with Guatemala and Honduras, has been plagued by drug-related violence, as rival gangs fight to gain control of the market, the Daily Mail reported

The complete absence of murders on Saturday may be a sign that the country's attempts to crack down on gang violence are working, the Daily Mail reported. Two rival El Salvadoran gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18, called a truce last month, according to Reuters, which may have also contributed to the lower murder rate. 

According to the United Nations' study on homicide, El Salvador had a homicide rate of 66 per 100,000 people in 2011, one of the highest in the world.

Guatemala, Honduras and Belize also have some of the worst murder per capita ratios, according to the Daily Mail. The high mortality rates are often blamed on Mexico's drug cartels, which use El Salvador as a transit point, according to Reuters. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/120416/el-salvador-first-murder-free-day-three-years