Violence looms in Brazil ahead of municipal vote

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RIO DE JANEIRO: Criminals burned down two buses and five voting centers in Brazil Saturday, local authorities said, as the country prepares for municipal elections. Police said that 35 “detainees of the Pedrinhas Penitentiary Complex had ordered these attacks” in Sao Luiz do Maranhao, adding that 23 of the inmates had been transferred to another prison. Saturday’s pre-dawn events brought the number of recorded violent incidents in the city to 24 since Thursday, when 17 buses were burned. The state’s government said 30 people, including 16 teenagers, had been arrested. Brazilian politicians said the army would bolster security measures for Sunday’s polling. “People can go vote without fear Sunday,” said the president of the electoral tribunal Gilmar Mendes on the Globo TV news channel. “As happens in other Brazilian states such as Sao Paulo, it is criminal organizations that dominate the prisons and order attacks outside prison” to sow terror, Mendes said. On Friday the country’s defense minister Raul Jungmann announced that 25,000 soldiers in 420 cities throughout more than half of Brazil’s states would reinforce security during the elections. A spate of political killings is adding to tensions lingering from the impeachment crisis. The latest victim was a mayoral candidate shot dead while campaigning Wednesday in Itumbiara in the central state of Goias. The main hotspot is Rio de Janeiro, where 15 candidates or politicians have been murdered over the last 10 months, police say.

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AFP

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