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13:28, 27 June 2017 Tuesday
20:34, 09 February 2017 Thursday

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Police strike sends Brazil state into anarchy
Police strike sends Brazil state into anarchy

Officials have said they are working on paying officers late salaries and that no strike is planned.

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Brazilian army said Thursday it is sending elite troops and military aviation to a state where more than 100 people are reported to have been killed since police went on strike.

More reinforcements were being deployed to the southeastern state of Espirito Santo, where 1,200 soldiers arrived earlier this week after chaos broke out when police went on strike demanding better pay.

"From now on I have decided to reinforce ES with paratroopers, armored vehicles and army aviation. The mission will be accomplished," Brazil's army commander, General Villas Boas, tweeted.

Globo television network quoted the police union in Espirito Santo saying that more than 100 people have now been killed in a wave of muggings, carjackings and looting in the capital city Vitoria and elsewhere.

The state governor's office said on its website that it had held talks with police but with no result.

It also issued an appeal Thursday for blood donors, saying stocks "have been reduced to a minimum in the last few days."

Meanwhile, there were continuing fears and rumors in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second most populous city, that police could start a copycat strike on Friday. 

State Governor Luis Fernando Pezao told Radio Gaucha in an interview early Thursday that he'd asked the federal authorities to put the army and elite National Force on standby in case the situation deteriorates, Globo television reported.

Rio has recently faced violent protests against austerity reforms, stretching police resources.

Brazilian law bars the Military Police -- as the force patrolling cities throughout Latin America's biggest country is known -- from going on strike.

In Espirito Santo, however, relatives and sympathizers are blockading police stations, and officers inside are deliberately making no effort to come out -- leaving the city unguarded.

The police want better conditions and higher salaries. A court declared the action an illegal strike and the state police chief has been replaced.

The crisis reflects nationwide budget crises in Brazil, which has faced a crippling recession for two years and is struggling to return to growth.

The country is also one of the most violent in the world, with heavily armed criminals battling both on the streets and in prisons. Last month clashes inside a prison near the northern city of Natal left 26 people dead, prompting the deployment of army troops.

Soldiers were also deployed to Rio de Janeiro during legislative elections last October, as they had been in large numbers during the Olympics two months earlier.


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Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland
Cyprus president seeks peace deal in Switzerland

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.