Mexico sees homicides rise by 9.7% in first quarter

Mexico sees homicides rise by 9.7% in first quarter
FILE - In this April 9, 2019. file photo, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador answers questions from journalists at his daily 7 a.m. press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City. López Obrador is limited to a single six-year term and wants a multibillion-dollar Mayan Train project on a fast track and running before he leaves office Dec. 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Officials say homicides in Mexico rose by 9.7% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period of 2018. The 8,493 killings in the first three months of 2019 are the most on record for the period.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he wants to reduce violence through social programs and a new militarized police force known as the National Guard. He says effects should be felt in about six months.

Lopez Obrador said Monday that Mexico is “starting to stabilize, so that violence won’t continue to grow at the same rate.” But he noted “it’s going to take some time.”

The rate did appear to slow; homicides were up by 11% and 16% in January and February respectively, but rose only 2.7% in March.