No murders in El Salvador for first day in three years


No one was murdered in El Salvador last Saturday, officials said, in what was the first homicide-free day in nearly three years for the Central American country plagued by violent drug gangs.

"After years when the number of murders reached alarming levels of up to 18 a day, we saw not one homicide in the country," President Mauricio Funes said in a statement. The murder-free day was the first recorded since leftist Funes took office in June 2009.

When he took power, the country had an average of 12 murders a day, but that tally had climbed closer to 18 by early this year.

Rival gangs operating in El Salvador called a truce last month, putting an end to bloodshed between the country's two most powerful gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and gang Mara 18.

El Salvador recently recorded a homicide rate of 66 per 100,000 people, one of the highest in the world, according to United Nations data. Much of that violence is blamed on Mexican drug cartels that use the country as a transit point.

Funes attended this weekend's Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, and credited his government's security measures for the drop in violence.

He recently ordered the military to take responsibility for routine security duties.