In Brazil Troops move to establish control in lawless state

Scenes of looting, shootings and carjackings have been broadcast on Brazilian television from the state capital Vitoria.

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A relative of a military police shows a sign reading "Enough of punishment, we want solutions!" during a protest in support of a police strike at the entrance of a police station in Vila Velha, near Vitoria, in eastern Brazil on February 6, 2017 play

A relative of a military police shows a sign reading "Enough of punishment, we want solutions!" during a protest in support of a police strike at the entrance of a police station in Vila Velha, near Vitoria, in eastern Brazil on February 6, 2017

(AFP)
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Brazilian federal troops began to reestablish control Tuesday over the state of Espirito Santo, where scores of people are reported to have been killed since the police went on strike.

Scenes of looting, shootings and carjackings have been broadcast on Brazilian television from the state capital Vitoria since police stopped patrolling Saturday and criminals quickly ran amok.

About 400 federal soldiers, who began deploying Monday, have now arrived, a spokesman for Espirito Santo state government told AFP. More troops were deploying Tuesday with the total planned to reach 1,200, the state governor's office said.

"The armed forces are on the streets and in the next hours, with the arrival of more soldiers... we will reach the necessary number. We are determined to restore peace, order and peace in the state," Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said Monday after emergency talks with local officials.

Buses, which had stopped running entirely, have restarted services, officials said, although the Globo news network reported that they would stop service at nightfall. Schools remain closed for a second day.

Globo reported that 68 people have been murdered since the chaos broke out in the state, which is north-east of Rio de Janeiro on the Atlantic coast, on Saturday, while Folha newspaper put the number at just over 50 in three days.

Brazil's Military Police -- as the force patrolling cities throughout Latin America's biggest country is known -- is barred by law from going on strike.

In Espirito Santo, however, relatives and sympathizers are blockading police stations and officers inside are making no effort to come out -- effectively leaving the city unguarded.

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

"We can't be hostages to this," state security chief Andre Garcia told Record TV news channel.

"We have to prioritize the security of population.... Our focus now is for these troops to go on the streets and guarantee safety."

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