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Brazil to send military police to state amid wave of attacks

January 4, 2019
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Firefighters put out torched vehicles on a street after attacks in the city of Fortaleza, northeastern Brazil, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Brazil's newly inaugurated government has ordered military police sent to Ceara state following a wave of attacks on banks, public buildings and infrastructure over the past two days, which have hit 15 cities, including the capital. (AP Photo/Alex Gomes/O Povo)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s newly inaugurated government ordered military police sent to a violent northeastern state Friday following a wave of attacks on banks, public buildings and vehicles over the past two days.

Camilo Santana, the governor of Ceara state, said 45 people had been arrested in connection with the dozens of attacks, which have hit 15 cities in the state, including the capital, Fortaleza. The attacks left the burned shells of cars and buses on streets and badly damaged the entrances to buildings.

While authorities said the motive behind the attacks had not been confirmed, officials believed they were revenge for the recent announcement of tighter rules governing the state’s prisons and inmates. Brazil’s prison gangs are powerful and their reach extends outside the country’s penitentiaries.

The federal Justice and Public Security Ministry, now led by popular former anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro, ordered the military police sent to Ceara at the request of Santana, citing the “urgent” nature of the threat. Authorities did not provide more details about the deployment.

President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician and former army captain who was elected on pledges to crack down on crime and give security forces a free hand against criminals, praised the move.

“The people of Ceara need help at this moment,” said Bolsonaro, who was inaugurated New Year’s Day.

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