Jan. 12 (UPI) — At least 400 new military personnel were sent Friday to the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceara to help stop a wave of violence that included a bomb explosion under a highway overpass.
Some 300 national armed forces troops were sent to the state, as well as 100 military police from the nearby state of Bahia and units from other states, to help provide security and control a spate of attacks by criminal gangs who dispute new prison policies, R7 reported.
The arrival comes after an explosion Thursday night under a highway overpass in the state capital of Fortaleza, marking the 10th day of attacks against public property by criminal bands. Attacks have included arson against public vehicles, public offices, banks and other public service infrastructure.
Unlike a highway overpass attack last week that caused damage to the infrastructure, Thursday night’s bombing did not. Other targets in recent days have been a radio station, banks, public health buildings and rural irrigation equipment. The attacks have hurt public services, while local tourism has plunged.
Not counting Friday’s arrival, there are already 29,000 security agents in the state of Ceara, including out-of-state and local military and civilian police, firefighters, and prison wardens. The first reinforcements from out of the state arrived Saturday, helping reduce violence, R7 added.
A total of 305 suspects have been arrested since the violence started, G1 reported. The violence is caused by criminal groups that oppose a new prison warden’s policy to stop a Ceara state practice to separate prisoners according to the criminal group to which they belong.
Since the violence started, 35 prisoners have been transferred to other facilities, including 15 on Friday, G1 Globo said.
A total of 190 criminal attacks have occurred since January 2, affecting 43 cities in the state of Ceara, G1 said. Fortaleza, the state capital and target of many of the attacks, is located 1,050 miles north of the country’s capital Brasilia.