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Police ends strike at World Cup venue

Saturday, April 19, 2014

SALVADOR, Brazil - Troops patrolled the World Cup host city of Salvador yesterday after a deadly orgy of violence triggered by a police strike less than two months before thousands of fans descend on the coastal Brazilian metropolis for the football extravaganza.

Thirty-nine deaths and widespread looting of supermarkets, pharmacies and electronics stores were reported in a 48-hour crime wave, adding to concerns about Brazil's ability to deliver a safe World Cup.

State officials said Thursday police were back on duty after ending their industrial dispute, which got under way on Tuesday.

"The strike is now over," state government spokesman Isaac Jorge said, describing the death toll in the city as "well above normal, though not absurdly so."

Two years ago, 157 people died in a wave of violence after Bahia police went on strike for 12 days.

Large-scale looting and dozens of murders were reported in the city, which has a reputation as one of Brazil's most dangerous and will host six matches during the World Cup.

Hundreds of elite police units and soldiers armed with assault rifles guarded the streets Thursday afternoon after President Dilma Rousseff ordered their deployment.

"I authorised the deployment of federal troops to support public security and guarantee the peace in Bahia," Rousseff wrote on Twitter.

"It is unacceptable that the security of Bahia's population be at risk."

The defence ministry said 2,500 soldiers had been mobilised while Rousseff also authorised the deployment of 250 national elite police officers, a figure that could be boosted to 5,000 men "until normal conditions are re-established," the ministry said prior to news the strike had ended.

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