SALVADOR: A fragile peace has b een re-established in World Cup host city of Salvador de Bahia after a wave of looting and murder after police went on strike last week writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

At least 19 people were murdered in the first 24 hours last Wednesday after police walked out, prompting looters to launch a two-day storm of raids on pharmacies, supermarkets, electronics stores and shoe shops.

More than 50 people were arrested after President Dilma Rousseff ordered the deployment of elite police units and 2,500 soldiers armed with assault rifles.

She said, via Twitter: “I authorized the deployment of federal troops to support public security and guarantee the peace in Bahia. It is unacceptable that the security of Bahia’s population be at risk.”

A Bahia state court declared the police strike illegal and imposed a daily $22,000 fine against the union until the officers, who are demanding a pay increase, returned to work.

Isaac Jorge, the Bahia state government spokesman, said the police strike was “illegal, unconstitutional and is harming the population.”

Bahia police went on strike for 12 days in 2012, sparking a wave of violence that left 157 people dead.

Salvador, Brazil’s third-largest city, is among the 12 cities that will host games during the World Cup in June and July: it will stage two of the most high-profile group stage matches – Spain v Holland and Germany v Portugal.

The murder rate in the state of Bahia soared by 400 percent between 2000 and 2010 to 41.1 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Applied Economics Research Institute.