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TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The murder rate in Honduras, one of the most violent countries in the Americas, dropped slightly last year compared to 2015, a respected local think tank said on Wednesday.

The murder rate dropped to 59.1 murders per 100,000 people last year, down from 60 per 100,000 in 2015, according to the Observatory of Violence at the National Autonomous University of Honduras. The Observatory attributed the slight decrease to a rise in Honduras' population.

The think tank recorded 5,150 murders last year, two more than in 2015.

In 2012, Honduras was the world's most murderous nation, with a rate of 90.4 per 100,000.

Since taking office in early 2014, President Juan Hernandez has deployed a new military police force to combat organised crime, and has increased the defence budget.

The Observatory's director, Migdonia Ayestas, said the Honduran government should seek new strategies other than using the military to tackle the scourge of gang murders.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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