An army soldier guards a crime scene after eight people were shot dead in Quezaltepeque, El Salvador, on March 30, 2015
Reuters
April 7, 2015 3:26 AM EDT

El Salvador recorded more murders in March than in any other month during the past decade, as gangland violence and drug trafficking continue to ravage the nation of 6 million.

Citing figures from the country’s National Civil Police (PNC), the newspaper La Prensa Grafica reports that at least 481 people were murdered in March — or almost 16 a day. The figure represents a 52% increase from the same period last year

The Central American nation has been rocked by renewed bouts of violence after a two-year truce between notorious gangs MS-13 and Barrio 18 collapsed last year.

Following the end of the cease-fire, the country’s security forces have taken a harder line with gang members and drug traffickers. In January, the director of El Salvador’s PNC said law-enforcement officials had the right to shoot suspected criminals with “complete confidence.”

“There is an institution that backs us. There is a government that supports us,” Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde told reporters during a press conference.

Nearly 40 police officers were killed in the line of duty last year. However, analysts say police deaths in 2015 will surpass that figure.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories

EDIT POST