Tue Feb 7, 2017 06:42PM
Brazilian army officers detain two men suspected of stealing from stores in Victoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, February 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
Brazilian army officers detain two men suspected of stealing from stores in Victoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, February 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
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Brazilian federal troops have begun to establish control over the eastern state of Espirito Santo, where dozens of people have reportedly been killed since the state police went on a strike three days earlier.

Criminals and thugs quickly ran amok in the absence of law and order across the small coastal state on Saturday, shortly after police stopped law enforcement due to a dispute with the government over conditions and wages. The unprecedented wave of violence, including looting, shootings, carjackings and rape, was initially triggered by protests held by friends and family of police officers across the state.

Reports said murder rate in the state capital of Victoria had risen to 650 percent with at least 52 homicides in just three days since the start of the deadly violence, which had also forced the shutdown of state services such as health centers and schools.

The order seemed to be gradually returning to Espirito Santo on Tuesday as its government said in a statement that some 400 federal soldiers, who had been dispatched to the state, began arriving, adding that further troops were also deploying on the same day with the total figure planned to reach 1,200.

"The armed forces are on the streets and in the next hours, with the arrival of more soldiers... we will reach the necessary number. We are determined to restore peace, order and peace in the state," Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said on Monday, after holding emergency talks with local officials.

Members of the Institute of Forensic Science carry a body during a police strike in Vitoria, Espirito Santo, Brazil, February 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

A Brazilian court has already declared the police move as an illegal strike and the state police head has been replaced.

The state security chief, Andre Garcia, also said that "they have to prioritize the security of population," adding, "Our focus now is for these troops to go on the streets and guarantee safety."

Brazil is currently experiencing its worst recession in decades.