Army to back military police in Rio

Brazil calls in the military to help curb a wave of gang violence in the beachside city.

    President of Brazil orders military forces as violence escalates [AFP]


    The defence minister and the head of Brazil's national security cabinet are still deciding how many soldiers will be deployed, when they will go and how long they will stay, she said.
     
    Cabral, a Lula ally who was sworn in as state governor on Monday, has said the national military police will initially he initially help to patrol state borders while armed forces will patrol areas near their barracks.
     
    History of violence
     
    Rio de Janeiro, an important tourist and business centre, suffered a wave of gang violence last week in which seven people were burned alive on a bus and two policemen were shot dead.
     
    Lula called the attacks "terrorism" that should be handled by the Brazilian state.
     
    The city has calmed, but scattered episodes of violence have continued. Before dawn on Thursday, a van filled with tourists was stopped by armed men on the motorway and everyone inside was robbed.
     
    Rio will host a summit of presidents from South America's Mercosur trade bloc later this month. It will hold its carnival parade at the height of the tourist season in February and also the Pan American Games in July.
     
    In 2003, about 3,000 federal troops were sent in to maintain order during Rio's carnival after drug gangs torched buses, killed seven police officers and forced shops to close.

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