‘Eleven killed’ after gunmen attack bar in Brazil
Police claim seven attackers involved in incident in Para state capital Belém
Residents mourn surrounded by police officers outside a bar after a shooting, in Belém, Para state, Brazil. Photograph: Claudio Pinheiro/Agencia Panamazonica/AFP/Getty Images
Eleven people have been killed after gunmen reportedly attacked a bar in the capital of Brazil’s northern Para state.
The state security agency confirmed that six women and five men died in the incident in the Guamá area of Para’s state capital, Belém.
The G1 news website said police claimed seven gunmen were involved in the attack, which left one other person wounded.
In late March, the federal government sent National Guard troops to Belém to reinforce security in the city for 90 days.
Brazil hit a record high of 64,000 homicides in 2017, 70 per cent of which were due to firearms, according to official statistics.
Much of Brazil’s violence is gang-related. In January, gang attacks brought the city of Fortaleza to a standstill with commerce, buses and taxis shut down.
Killings attributed to police gunfire in Rio de Janeiro state have reached a record high, rising 18 per cent in the first three months – a spike partly attributed to a campaign of a zero tolerance for criminals being pushed by state leaders.
One of new president Jair Bolsonaro’s main campaign promises was that he would loosen Brazil’s strict gun laws, arguing that because criminals are well-armed with illegally obtained guns, “upstanding citizens” should have the right to defend themselves with legally bought weapons.
Mr Bolsonaro has made good on that promise with two presidential decrees to make buying guns easier, though federal prosecutors are hoping to block this move through the courts. –AP