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Blockades remain as some Brazilian police return to work

Several hundred officers have returned to their patrols in southeastern Espirito Santo after eight days of strikes, officials say. Their relatives, however, are continuing to block entry to several police stations.

The Department of Public Safety in Brazil's southeastern Espirito Santo state said nearly 900 military police officers were patrolling the streets on Sunday, still short of the roughly 2,000 officers who would have been on duty on a regular day.

Earlier, the country's defense minister appealed to "all of the good police officers" to resume their shifts, after a deal was struck on Friday between the state and police union for a return to work.

Last week's eight day walk-out began when officers, who are barred by Brazil's constitution from striking, were prevented from entering their police stations by protesting family members. 

Relatives took a lead by setting up barricades outside police buildings, and holding rallies demanding higher wages for officers.

Brasilien Victoria Polizisten (picture alliance/AP Photo/D. Herculano)

Military officers were drafted in after Espirito Santo state suffered a wave of lawlessness

During the strike, the state witnessed a large increase in violence, looting and robbery, which saw 137 people killed, according to local media. Espirito Santo's state government rushed in 3,000 federal troops to help maintain law and order.

Much of the violence centered in the poorer areas of the state capital, Vitoria.

The strikes spread to Rio de Janeiro, where further blockades were set up at police stations.

No pay deal yet

Although no concessions have been made over pay, many officers heeded a call to return to work. But several blockades remained on Sunday, as officers and relatives insisted that their 2,700 reals ($867, 815 euros) per month salary is among the lowest in Brazil.

Some officers were taken by helicopter to patrol the streets due to the ongoing barricades.

Meanwhile, the state government said more than 700 officers would be charged with rebellion, linked to the strike action, and warned they could face between eight and 20 years in jail.

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mb,mm/jlw (AFP, AP)

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