Striking Bahia Military Police Suspected of ‘Exterminations’

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A high-ranking police official in Brazil has said that 25 to 30 of the murders that took place in the city of Salvador during a military police strike may have been committed by striking officers.

O Globo reports that Arthur Gallas, director of the Bahia Homicide Department, said that some 45 of the 187 murders that took place during the strike had characteristics of “executions,” with the victims handcuffed or bound and shot in the head.

The announcement follows the end of the police’s strike in Bahia and of a separate strike in Rio, both over demands for higher wages.

InSight Crime Analysis

If some of the execution-style murders that took place during Bahia’s police strike were committed by police, this would point to police involvement in paramilitary forces known as militias. This phenomenon is well-established in Rio de Janeiro, where militia groups made up of current and former security officials control entire neighborhoods. According to the Tribuna da Bahia, Salvador’s police deny reports of militia activity.

Brazilian federal authorities launched an investigation into broadening networks of militias, including in Bahia, last year. Between reports of extortion by police-staffed militias and hints that police may be behind some of Bahia’s murders, it may take more than a $350 a month pay raise to tackle Salvador’s crime problem. A recent study showed a 370 percent increase in homicide in the city from 2000 to 2010.

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