[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 21:58 GMT 22:58 UK
Police backlash lifts Brazil toll
Police officer stops a suspect at a checkpoint in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday
Sao Paulo police have been carrying out frisks and ID checks
The death toll from four days of gang attacks and a police backlash in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has risen to 115, said police.

They say 33 suspected gang members were shot by police in the 24 hours until Tuesday lunchtime.

Transport and other services in Sao Paulo have been restored, but the authorities are carrying out hundreds of arrests as they pursue the gang.

The wave of violence seems to have been ordered by gang leaders inside jail.

State authorities have strongly denied local newspaper reports that they struck a deal with the gang - the First Command of the Capital (PCC) - to put an end to attacks.

'Civil war'

Calm was returning to Sao Paulo city, Brazil's industrial capital, amid a heavy presence of police who frisked motorcyclists and drivers and checked ID cards.

On Monday, a string of attacks on police posts, banks and buses sent citizens scurrying home before nightfall.

DEATH TOLL JUMPS
Official dead on Monday: 81 (39 police/prison guards, 38 suspected gang members, 4 civilians)
Official dead on Tuesday: 115 (40 police/prison guards, 71 suspected gang members, 4 civilians, in addition bodies of 13 prisoners reportedly found)

Shops, offices and schools were open again on Tuesday, but many residents said they remained frightened.

"It's a civil war," Manuela Nascimento, a newsstand worker, told news agency AP.

"Now I leave my house scared and go to work scared."

The attacks were launched on Friday, apparently in retaliation for the transfer of 765 jailed PCC members to a maximum-security prison.

Over the weekend inmates of more than 70 prisons revolted, taking some 200 hostages, and suspected gangsters on the streets launched the mass attacks.

The revolts have now been quelled and the hostages released.

Police officer guards a burned out bus in Sao Paulo

On Monday, police said 38 police and prison guards had been killed along with 39 suspected gangsters and four civilians.

The figure of suspected gangsters dead had jumped to 71 on Tuesday.

That increase has prompted concern among human rights groups, says the BBC's Steve Kingstone in Sao Paulo.

They say the earlier attacks on officers cannot be interpreted as a licence to kill and are calling for the names and details of all victims to be made public.

In addition to the 115 reported dead by police, it is thought that some 13 inmates caught up in the prison revolts were also killed.

Truce claims

Meanwhile, leading local newspapers say a deal struck between the PCC gang chief and authorities explains Tuesday's dip in attacks against police.

State Governor Claudio Lembo rejected the allegations, saying there would be "no concessions" to criminals, and the state organised crime unit has also denied the claims.

The PCC was formed in Sao Paulo by prisoners who survived one of Brazil's worst jail massacres in the early 1990s, when the police killed 111 inmates to put down a riot.

It is involved in drugs and arms trafficking, kidnappings, bank robberies, and prison breaks and rebellions, police say.

The gang's power has been heightened in recent years by the availability of mobile phones, smuggled through prison security, enabling members to run criminal activities from their cells.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the disturbances in Sao Paulo




SEE ALSO:
Sao Paulo residents under siege
15 May 06 |  Americas
In pictures: Brazil violence
15 May 06 |  In Pictures
Brazil's mighty prison gangs
14 May 06 |  Americas
More die in fresh Brazil violence
14 May 06 |  Americas
Latin America: Crisis behind bars
16 Nov 05 |  Americas


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific