Brazil state transfers public safety operations to army

SAO PAULO (AP) " The southeastern Brazilian state of Espirito Santo has turned over security duties to the army as it tries to solve a police crisis that has led to a wave of violence and at least 100 deaths.

The decree authorizing the transfer was published Wednesday in the state's official gazette.

The killings in the state capital of Vitoria and other cities erupted as friends and family of military police officers blocked their barracks over the weekend to demand higher pay for the officers.

Brazil's Military Police force patrols the nation's cities and is barred by law from going on strike.

The union representing civil police officers said 101 people have been killed since police stopped patrolling the streets Friday night. The state government has not released a death toll.

Some buses circulated for a few hours Thursday morning, but union officials ordered them off the streets after union leader Walace Belmiro Fernaziari was shot dead near a bus terminal.

The union said gunmen threatened two bus drivers, telling them they would set fire to buses that circulated.

At least two buses have been torched over the past six days in the state capital of Vitoria and several stores have been looted. Some shopping malls opened for a limited number of hours. Schools remained closed and medical services at public hospitals were interrupted.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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