The murder rate in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia has soared during a state police strike that on Saturday entered its fourth day. The state’s Public Safety Department says on its website that 51 people have been murdered in and near the capital city of Salvador since the strike began on Wednesday.
The government news service Agencia Brasil says that the murder rate has ballooned 117% increase over the same period last year.
Some 2,000 Brazilian army soldiers and a contingent of 650 elite federal police troops are patrolling the nation’s third-largest city while officials and strike leaders negotiate an end to the strike.
State officials have said that about 10,000 of the state’s 30,000 police are on strike. They are demanding better pay and bonuses.
The city of Salvador registered a total of 29 homicides over a 30-hour span, amid a crime wave caused by a police strike and despite the reinforcements provided by the federal government.
The city has been plunged in a wave of violent crime since late Tuesday, when the 30.000 members of the Bahia state police force went on strike demanding a 50% pay raise.
Though on Thursday a court declared the walkout “illegal” and ordered police to resume their work immediately, the strike continued until Saturday with spokespersons for the police union announcing that it would not be called off until their demands were met.
The Brazilian government after ordering 2.600 soldiers from Army barracks in Salvador sent to other cities of Bahia, announced it was preparing another 4,000 if the situation gets worse.
The troops went on patrol this Friday in the chief tourism centres of Salvador, a city set to welcome thousands of tourists to celebrate Carnival, one of the most spectacular, massively attended in all Brazil.
Brasilia said that Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo will travel to Salvador this weekend to personally appraise the situation and decide whether a greater military presence is needed.
Speaking Friday night on regional television, Bahia Gov. Jacques Wagner attributed the crime wave to groups with ties to the police on strike.