Photo: Crime news in Latin America
The northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador suffered 21 murders in a 24-hour period amid a strike by Bahia state police, authorities said Thursday.
The oceanfront metropolis of 2 million people, set to host matches during the 2014 World Cup soccer tourney that begins in June, is one of Brazil’s most dangerous cities, with 62 homicides per every 100,000 residents, according to the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies.
Besides the spike in murders, the first 24 hours of the police strike saw shops looted, beachgoers robbed and a nearly complete suspension of bus service in Salvador - the state capital - as drivers were too scared to work, Bahia’s Public Safety Department said.
Bahia police went on strike late Tuesday after the state government rejected their demand for raises, citing budget constraints.
Brazil’s federal government sent 5,000 military personnel to Bahia to maintain order during the police walkout.
The troops were deployed to “give support to public safety and ensure peace” in the state, President Dilma Rousseff said on Twitter.
“It is unacceptable that the safety of the Bahia population should be at risk,” she said, offering a vote of confidence in state Gov. Jaques Wagner, one the president’s political allies.
Bahia’s highest court has declared the strike illegal and ordered the cops back to work.
A 12-day-long police strike in Bahia two years ago was accompanied by 180 homicides statewide.