Brazil to boost troop deployment in troubled state

More troops and vehicles to be sent to Espirito Santo following deaths of over 100 people during week of police strike.

    Brazil to boost troop deployment in troubled state
    The police officers are striking for better work conditions and wages [Reuters]

    The Brazilian army has said that it will deploy more troops, armoured vehicles and military aviation to a southeastern state to fill a security vacuum where the police force has been on strike for a week.

    A wave of violence and crime in Espirito Santo has claimed more than 100 lives so far, which is a major rise from the four murders recorded in all of January.

    The announcement on Thursday came a day after Cesar Colnago, the state governor, said that the 1,200 soldiers who arrived earlier this week were not enough to help end the rampant unrest, which started after police left their posts on Friday in protest over wages and work conditions.

    "From now on, I have decided to reinforce ES with paratroopers, armoured vehicles and army aviation. The mission will be accomplished," General Eduardo Villas Boas, Brazil's army commander, said via Twitter on Thursday.

    Wave of muggings

    Brazil's Globo television network quoted the police union in Espirito Santo saying that more than 100 people have now been killed in a wave of muggings, carjackings and looting in the capital city Vitoria and elsewhere.

    Relatives and sympathisers of striking officers are blockading police stations, and officers inside are deliberately making no effort to come out - leaving the city unguarded.

    The website of the Colnago's office said talks had been held with the police, but with no result.

    It also issued an appeal on Thursday for blood donors, saying stocks "have been reduced to a minimum in the last few days".

    1,200 troops are struggling to fill the security vacuum in the state [EPA]

    The police want better conditions and higher salaries. A court declared the action an illegal strike and the state police chief has been replaced.

    Meanwhile, there were continuing fears and rumours in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second most populous city, that police could start a copycat strike on Friday.

    Officials have said they are working on paying officers late salaries and that no strike is planned. However, persistent rumours on social media have struck a nerve.

    State Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao told Radio Gaucha in an interview early Thursday that he had asked the federal authorities to put the army and elite National Public Security Force on standby, in case the situation deteriorates, Globo television reported.

    OPINION: The fight for Brazil's future

    Rio has recently faced violent protests against austerity reforms, stretching police resources.

    The crisis reflects nationwide budget crises in Brazil, blamed on corruption, which has faced a crippling recession for two years and is struggling to return to growth.

    The country is also one of the most violent in the world, with heavily armed criminals battling both on the streets and in prisons.

    Last month, clashes inside a prison near the northern city of Natal left 26 people dead, prompting the deployment of army troops.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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