Wave of violence sweeps Brazil's biggest city
SAO PAULO (AP) - At least 140 people have been murdered in South America's biggest city over the past two weeks in a rising wave of violence, Sao Paulo's Public Safety Department says.
Killings in Sao Paulo began sharply increasing in September, a month in which 144 people were killed, the department's website says. It says a total of 982 homicides took place in the city during the first nine months of the year. The victims included 90 police officers, most of them gunned down while off duty.
A Public Safety Department official said on Saturday that the killings of police have been ordered by imprisoned leaders of an organised crime group called the First Capital Command in reprisal for a crackdown on the drug trade. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.
The First Capital Command is one of Brazil's most notorious organised crime groups. Based in Sao Paulo state prisons, the group allegedly was behind several waves of attacks on police, government buildings, banks and public buses in 2006. Those assaults and counterattacks by police in the slums killed more than 200 people.