Brazilian Governor Sergio Cabral Filho has formally requested that Brazil's army intervene to contain the violence that has been spiraling out of control in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro.
Cabral made the request as President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva visited the city. Offers of federal troops to help quell the violence were rejected under the previous governor, who was replaced January 1st.
"There are 6,000 marines who could be helping out. I'm not going to spend four years at the funerals of police and civilians. The people are in a state of panic, it's time to join forces," Cabral said. The governor has just attended one of these funerals for his family's chief of security who was murdered.
The crime-plagued city earlier requested federal help after gang members attacked police stations and burned buses in late December. Some 19 people died in the street violence, including eight who were incinerated in a bus after criminals robbed passengers and set it ablaze.
Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's most violent city with an annual homicide rate of 50 per 100,000 people. While the violence is usually confined to poor shantytowns, some of the crime in December spilled into well-heeled beach districts frequented by tourists.
Silva responded to those attacks in January by sending the nation's elite National Public Security Force to reinforce police and pledging $183 million to ensure safety during the Pan American Games.
Silva planned to meet with army officials later this week about the operation. Rio is scheduled to host the Pan American Games in July.
Cabral's predecessor as governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Rosinha Matheus, repeatedly rejected federal offers of troops unless they were under her command.
Silva said justice and defense ministers would meet with the governor and public security secretary to map out what areas should be occupied.
"All this so the army doesn't clash with the police," Silva told reporters during a visit at Rio de Janeiro.
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