Crime erupts as police strike in Brazil's Bahia -reports

Sun Feb 5, 2012 12:31pm EST

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SAO PAULO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - A police strike in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia sparked a wave of murders and other violence in World Cup host-city Salvador, local media reported, just two weeks ahead of Carnaval celebrations that are expected to attract visitors from around the world.

At least 80 homicides have been registered in the Salvador area since a statewide police strike began on Tuesday, a 129 percent increase from the previous week, local media said.

Brazil's government responded on Friday by dispatching the army to patrol streets, particularly tourist areas, after about one-third of the state's police officers went on strike demanding better pay, the reports said.

Assaults and lootings of stores also reportedly increased and more than 200 cars have been reported stolen since the strike began.

The violence comes as Salvador, Brazil's third-largest city, prepares to host hundreds of thousands of tourists, both for Carnaval celebrations beginning Feb. 18 and for soccer's World Cup in 2014. (Reporting By Asher Levine; Editing by Bill Trott)