Honduras murder rate the world's highest - but falling

A man looks at a poster of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa with a gun added to it, as he walks along a street of Tegucigalpa, on Feb 14, 2014. The murder rate in Honduras - the world's highest at more than eight times the international average - has ac
A man looks at a poster of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa with a gun added to it, as he walks along a street of Tegucigalpa, on Feb 14, 2014. The murder rate in Honduras - the world's highest at more than eight times the international average - has actually gone down, researchers have said. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AFP) - The murder rate in Honduras - the world's highest at more than eight times the international average - has actually gone down, researchers have said.

"The national rate of homicides is 79 per 100,000 residents," the report from Honduras' Observatory of Violence at the national university said.

The number is down from 85.5 per 100,000 a year earlier, according to the figures, and it is the second year in a row Honduras saw a fall in the murder rate.

But it still adds up to 6,757 homicides in 2013 - an average of 19 murders a day - in a country of only 7.6 million, said the report by observatory director Migdonia Ayestas and university chief Julieta Castellanos, which was released Monday.

And despite the slight decrease, the rate remains the highest in the world.

The observatory's figures are just slightly higher than those compiled by the national police, which saw a drop from 85.1 murders per 100,000 residents in 2012 to 75.1 per 100,000 in 2013.

Honduras recorded a murder rate of 51 per 100,000 in 2001 and that number soared to a high of 92 per 100,000 in 2011, according to the observatory.

The impoverished Central American country is fighting gangs involved in extortion, theft, and arms and drug trafficking.