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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Rows as Sao Paulo killings go on
Police stopping motorcycle rider
Despite the riots being quelled the death toll is continuing to rise
Gang-related violence has continued in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, with the police shooting dead a further 14 suspected gang members.

At least 170 people have died in a week of clashes, which began with prison riots and attacks against the police.

Human rights groups have accused police of targeting innocent civilians as they avenge the killing of their officers.

The head of the military police Colonel Elizeu Eclair Teixeira denies that any innocent people have been killed.

'Rogue officers'

The BBC's Steve Kingstone in Sao Paulo says that as attacks on the police have fallen, the number of suspects shot by officers has risen sharply.

In less than a week the police in Sao Paulo have shot dead 107 people, almost the same as the number of fatal shootings in the first three months of the year.

The victims are described as suspects, but few details have emerged and many of the dead are yet to be identified, our correspondent says.

Human rights campaigners suspect the police of acting out of revenge for the murders of officers by the gang known as the First Command of the Capital (PCC).

All the deaths happened during counter-attacks by the police. This is clear from the incident reports
Col Teixeira
Military police chief

They say there is evidence that rogue officers have indiscriminately shot at civilians, especially in poorer areas of Sao Paulo.

"On this moment we are facing a sort of explosion. Policemen in their cars with their guns going to poor neighbourhoods and facing people with a face like criminals and shooting them," said lawyer Carlos Veiss.

Col Teixeira rejected such claims in an interview with the daily Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and said there was no evidence of the police using excessive force.

"Not so far. All the deaths happened during counter-attacks by the police. This is clear from the incident reports," he said.

The governor of Sao Paulo state, Claudio Lembo, has also denied its security forces are out of control

He said they were acting within limits and with restraint. The state attorney-general has said he will investigate every death.

But our correspondent says the number of shootings is causing growing concern, with some critics drawing comparisons with the death squads of Brazil's military era.

Interview outrage

Meanwhile, a row has broken out over an interview which a journalist says he got with a gang leader - via mobile phone from a maximum security jail.

The Bandeirantes television channel says the man who spoke by phone to its reporter was Marcus Camacho, known as Marcola, the alleged leader of the PCC.

He told reporter Roberto Cabrini that the violence would never have happened had the state authorities respected the Brazilian constitution in their treatment of prisoners.

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

The PCC was ready and had the means to attack again, the interviewee said.

The Sao Paulo authorities have ordered experts to authenticate the recording, insisting that Marcola is in isolation without a phone.

But correspondents say gang leaders often get phones smuggled in to them with the help of corrupt guards.




SEE ALSO:
Brazil governor denies reprisals
18 May 06 |  Americas
Police backlash lifts Brazil toll
16 May 06 |  Americas
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


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