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Mexico murder rate soars as more than 25,000 people killed in 2017

The number of people murdered in Mexico reached a record high in 2017 as a wave of violence sweeps across the country.

The body count for last year reached 25,339 as gang warfare and furious battles against drug lords are being waged in more regions than ever before.

Figures based on murders between January and November had already established 2017 as a record-breaking year for homicides in the country – but an additional 2,219 people were killed in December alone.

The previous record for murders in Mexico was 22,409, in 2011.

Many areas of the country have been seemingly under siege as criminals, police and military fight for control since Felipe Calderon launched a controversial anti-drug operation in 2006.

Some 200,000 people are thought to have died in the violence.

The figures for 2017 do not outline what percentage of the murders are related to organised crime but experts predict it is a large majority.

The bulk of murders were recorded in states where drug cartels are deeply entrenched. They include Guerrero in the south, where tourists have enjoyed the bay of Acapulco, and Veracruz in the east.

But the bloodshed has also spread to areas previously untouched, including Baja California Sur, Colima and Guanajuato.

It comes after the capture of key cartel leaders, which analysts say may have sparked a rise in the number of autonomous criminal groups.

In an attempt to address the rise in attacks, Mexico’s congress has approved another controversial law that formalised the military’s role in security.

The move drew criticism from rights groups who are concerned about militarisation of the country.

The homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants in Mexico is now 20.51 – up from 16.80 in 2016 when 20,545 people were murdered.

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