Homicides in El Salvador fall 18.5 percent through November 2016

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - Homicides in El Salvador fell 18.5 percent in the first 11 months of 2016 compared to the same period last year, officials said on Wednesday, partly attributing the drop to the implementation of new security plans in the penitentiary system.

Police statistics showed 4,946 homicides from January to November, compared to 6,071 in the same period last year.

“This was possible thanks to the fact that security actions were concentrated in the penitentiary system and throughout the country, especially in the municipalities and sectors most affected by violence,” said Mauricio Ramirez, El Salvador’s Justice and Public Security minister.

Over the last year, officials have moved gang members to more secure prisons, blocked cell phone signals to curb kill orders, and restricted movements in penitentiaries.

El Salvador is experiencing historical levels of violence, with more homicides registered in recent years than during the civil war, which left 75,000 victims and 8,000 people missing.

In 2015, authorities reported a record number of 103 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the world according to the United Nations.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria Meza, writing by Natalie Schachar; Editing by Chris Reese