Feb. 7 (UPI) — The Brazilian Army has deployed 200 soldiers to the city of Vitória, the capital of the Espírito Santo state, where a state military police strike over pay has led to a crime surge.
The troops arrived Monday after police stopped operations Saturday morning. The Vitória police union on Tuesday said there have been at least 75 murders since the start of the strike, compared to four in the month of January.
Officials have closed schools, public health clinics and city administrative offices in the Vitória metropolitan area until the situation is resolved. Bus routes and schedules in the city have also been affected out of fear of violence.
At least 24 people were arrested since soldiers arrived Monday, charged with robbery and drug trafficking, Jornal O Globo reported, adding that no one has yet been arrested for murder.
“There is no way we can accept this attitude, leaving the population deprived of an essential service like public security,” Espírito Santo Gov. Cesar Colnago said Monday.
Government officials have demanded the strike end before holding negotiations with the police union. Families of the police officers on strike have protested in front of police stations because the officers are prohibited from taking part in demonstrations.
The Espírito Santo State Medical-Legal Department said its refrigerators for holding corpses are overfilled and that some bodies have been taken to other agencies.