This past Saturday, the small Central American country of El Salvador celebrated its first homicide-free day since leftist president Mauricio Funes assumed control nearly three years ago.

According to UN figures, El Salvador and Honduras, its neighbor to the east, share the dubious honor of having the highest homicide rates in the world.

The country's 12-murder-a-day average climbed to a high of 18 per day earlier this year, but dropped to zero Saturday thanks in large part to a recent truce brokered between the rival Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18 gangs.

Funes said in the statement announcing Saturday's milestone that security measures put in place by his government deserved credit for bringing down the murder rate. Last month, Funes vehemently denied being behind the truce between the Maras. "This was an initiative by the Catholic Church," Funes said then.

[photo via AP]