Latin America & Caribbean

Brazilian troops clash with police striking over pay

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Media captionSoldiers tackle striking police officers in the Brazilian state of Bahia

Police who are on strike in the Brazilian state of Bahia have clashed with soldiers sent to remove them from the state assembly.

Troops fired rubber bullets and charged against protesters who are demanding improved pay and conditions.

Power at the assembly was also cut as the army tried to force out striking police officers and their families.

The murder rate has more than doubled in the state capital, Salvador, since police stopped work on Tuesday.

Salvador, Brazil's third largest city, is one of the venues for the football World Cup in 2014.

The government says about one third of Bahia's 30,000 state police officers are involved in the industrial action.

The officers are demanding a wage increase of at least 30% and better working conditions.

More than 3,000 Brazilian soldiers and federal paramilitary police have been sent to patrol the streets and keep the peace in Bahia.

Since the strike began on 31 January, crime has risen in Bahia and at least 93 people have been killed - more than double the usual murder rate.

Marcos Prisco, a police officer and strike leader, said strikers were frustrated with the Brazilian authorities.

"If the problem is the lack of security, just sign the deal and police officers will return to work today," he said.

Bahia Governor Jaques Wagner has said the strike is illegal and accused some of the officers of violent tactics.

"A group of police using reprehensible methods, spreading fear among the population, caused disturbances in some parts of the state," Mr Wagner said.

Bahia state officials said one of the strike leaders was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of stealing public funds.

The officials said the arrest was related to the seizure by striking officers of more than a dozen police vehicles.

Sixteen of the seized vehicles have now been recovered by the army.

The rise in violence comes as Salvador prepares for Carnival celebrations which are attended by tens of thousands of tourists every year.

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