El Salvador homicides up 70 percent last year; overall rate 104 per 100,000 inhabitants

Authorities report that killings spiked by nearly 70 percent in El Salvador in 2015, resulting in a sky-high homicide rate that could make it the world's most violent nation.

National Police director Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde said Monday that El Salvador officially registered at least 6,657 homicides in 2015, up from 3,942 the previous year.

The overall homicide rate was 104 per 100,000 inhabitants. That puts the country in a position to take over neighboring Honduras' dubious title of murder capital of the world.

Researcher Jeannette Aguilar says the rate "puts us at the head of the world's most violent nations."

Salvadoran authorities blame most of the killings on gangs involved in drug trafficking and extortion rackets.