[QODLink]
Americas
Murders soar in Brazil city as police strike
Federal troops sent to Salvador after 50 killings occur during four days of ongoing police labour dispute.
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2012 06:35

The Brazilian government has sent federal troops to the state of Bahia to restore order after a labour strike by police opened the door to a crime wave, authorities said.

By Saturday, the homicide rate in the state capital of Salvador was up 117 per cent to 50 killings in four days since the strike started, according to figures from the government news service Agencia Brasil.

Thirty of those killings reportedly took place within 24 hours. A jump in lootings and assaults was also reported.

"Police reject claims they should be held responsible for any violence ... and the government believes a hard core group of union leaders are fanning the flames of the violence," said Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Salvador.

A judge has ruled the strike is illegal and 12 arrest warrants have been issued for union leaders, but police rallied in a show of defiance on Saturday by taking over the legislative assembly.

"Neither the police on strike nor the government are willing to back down," our correspondent said.

Wage demands

In a televised message Jaques Wagner, Bahia's governor, called the police strike illegal.

"A group of police using reprehensible methods, spreading fear among the population, caused disturbances in some parts of the state," said Wagner.

At the governor's request, President Dilma Rousseff sent a reported 2,000 Brazilian army soldiers and a contingent of 650 elite federal police troops to the nation's third-largest city.

On Saturday, troops were seen patrolling the streets of Salvador, which is preparing to welcome millions of tourists for the annual Carnival festival.

Nevertheless, the climate of insecurity created by the strike resulted in 10 per cent of air and hotel reservations being canceled, Pedro Galvao, president of the Association of Travel Agencies of Bahia, told Brazil's O Globo newspaper.

State officials have said that about 10,000 of the state's 30,000 police are on strike, demanding a 50 per cent increase in wages and better bonuses.

The average wage for a military police officer is about $867 per month.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.