SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR —
Government statistics in El Salvador show a sharp drop in homicides so far in 2017 after the gang-plagued country posted some of the world's highest murder rates in recent years.
National police Commissioner Howard Cotto said Wednesday that 237 killings were recorded in February. Added to 256 in January, that's 493 for the first two months.
Last year El Salvador saw 1,404 homicides during the same period.
Cotto attributed the decline to a government crackdown and legislation giving authorities extraordinary powers to fight gangs, such as blocking cellphone communications in prisons and isolating jailed leaders in maximum-security conditions.
The country had a homicide rate of 81 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2016. The previous year it was 103, the highest violent death rate for any nation not in open war.