Mexico recorded more than 29,000 murders in 2017, the highest annual tally in decades, government figures have shown.
Mexico has struggled with years of violence as the government has battled vicious drug cartels that have increasingly splintered into smaller, more bloodthirsty gangs.
The record 29,168 murders in 2017 are higher than the homicide rate during the peak year of Mexico’s drug war in 2011, when there were 27,213 murders.
The interior ministry reported the figures on Sunday, which are the highest since comparable records began in 1997.
Violence is a central issue in July’s presidential election. The Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, faces an uphill battle to keep his ruling Institutional Revolutionary party in office.
There were 40% more murder investigations opened last year compared with 2013, Peña Nieto’s first full year in office.
The country’s homicide rate of 20.5 per 100,000 inhabitants was still below that of Brazil and Colombia, both at 27 per 100,000, and well below El Salvador’s 60.8 killings per 100,000.
Mexico on Thursday dismissed a claim by Donald Trump that it was the most dangerous country in the world.
Drug violence and factors such as bloody turf battles sparked by the expansion of the Jalisco New Generation cartel are believed to behind the rising murder rate.
SOURCE: The Guardian, The Associated Press, Reuters