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.

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