Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday launched a plan to fight crime that, in its first phase, will involve 3,000 soldiers in police operations in crime-ridden neighborhoods in Caracas.

"The most important problem that our society has to resolve is the link with criminality, violence, so-called insecurity; it's the most serious problem," the president remarked in an official event carried live on all television and radio stations.

The 3,000 soldiers listened to Maduro's speech at the Military Academy at Caracas's Ft. Tiuna, the country's main armed forces barracks, and from there they were deployed out on the streets to begin patrolling and fighting crime.

It is anticipated that the plan will be implemented in an incremental manner in the rest of the country.

According to figures released by the government in March, there were 16,072 murders in Venezuela in 2012, 14 percent more than the previous year, meaning that the annual murder rate is 54 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The independent Venezuelan Violence Observatory, however, said last December that the statistics were even worse and that, according to its own tally, criminal violence took 21,692 lives last year for an annual murder rate of 73 per 100,000 residents. EFE

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