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October 25, 2014

Latin America

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Twelve die in 3-hour killing spree in Brazil

Police are investigating whether the homicides could have been committed by members of the military police as retaliation after an off-duty member of the force was killed during a robbery at a local gas station on Sunday.

Murders add to security concerns as country prepares to host World Cup this year

SãO PAULO — Twelve people were killed in the city of Campinas, the second biggest in São Paulo state, on Sunday night with police investigating if the murders were linked.

All of the murders occured during a three-hour period in the Ouro Verde area, in the city’s periphery, and were followed by the arsoning of three buses and a car by hooded men.

The 12 homicides had similar characteristics: the gunmen fired the shots from a moving car and the victims received multiple shots to their heads and upper bodies.

The first attack occured at around 11pm on Sunday, when four men were killed at the Recanto do Sol II neighbourhood, local newspaper Folha de São Paulo said yesterday. Ten minutes later, two other men were killed at the Cosmos neighbourhood, with shots to their heads. The rest were murdered at the Villa Alegre neigbourhood.

Of the 12 people killed, six had police records for crimes such as homicides and car theft, but no weapons or drugs were found on them. They were all between 17 and 30 years old.

Local police believe that the murders are linked but were working yesterday to try to find out what the link was.

One of the theories is that the homicides were committed by members of the military police as retaliation after a member of the force was killed while off duty during a robbery at a gas station.

Another hypothesis is that the homicides were the result of a battle between rival gangs.

At least three buses and a car were torched in Campinas yesterday morning, following the murders. The incidents took place in the same area where the homicides had occured.

The vehicles were arsoned by a group of around 30 hooded people but none of them had been arrested yesterday.

Security concerns

The homicides add to insecurity concerns in Brazil, as the country prepares to host the World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2016.

Last week, the Rio de Janeiro state police department announced that a special force had been created ahead of the events, with special focus on controlling violent demonstrations. The battalion is composed of about 500 specially trained officers recruited from police units statewide.

The decision to create the special force follows the violent protests that erupted in June all over Brazil against bus fare hikes, corruption, poor public services and the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. At least six people died in connection with the protests, and Rio saw some of the most violent ones.

Brazil also announced in the beginning of January that 10,000 members of an elite federal security force will help better control the demonstrations expected around the country during the World Cup.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has criticized Brazil’s slow preparations for the World Cup, calling the country further behind than any other hosting the international event during his tenure. He has said he believes there will be more of the kind of protests that marred last year’s Confederations Cup, but is hopeful they won’t impact the World Cup.

Jerome Valcke, the top FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, has said that the tournament would have “the highest level of security you can imagine” to contain any violence.

Herald with online media, AP

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