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At least 19 other cities in the Brazilian state were the scene of shootings and fires early Tuesday morning.
The Brazilian government announced today the dispatch of special troops from the National Security Force to Rio Grande do Norte (northeast) in the face of the recent wave of violence sweeping the state.
In response to a request for police reinforcements from the governor, Fátima Bezerra, the Minister of Justice, Flávio Dino, announced the assignment of "220 police officers to assist the state forces."
The Minister said through his official Twitter account that a further expansion of reinforcements is possible as the situation requires.
At least 19 cities in Rio Grande do Norte, including the regional capital Natal, were the scene of a wave of attacks in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with shootings and fires in public buildings, stores, and vehicles.
Falei agora por telefone com a governadora Fátima, do Rio Grande do Norte. Primeira parte da equipe da Força Nacional já está em Natal. Outra parte chegará ainda nesta madrugada. E outra amanhã e depois. Destinamos 220 policiais para auxiliar as forças estaduais. E podemos… https://t.co/TGBWHd2XKA
I just spoke by phone with Governor Fátima, from Rio Grande do Norte. The first part of the National Force team is already in Natal. Another part will arrive this morning. And another one tomorrow and the day after. We assigned 220 police officers to assist state forces. And we can expand as much as necessary.
Local media point to the criminal organization Crime Syndicate as responsible for the attacks. The organization operates in the region, controlling drug trafficking.
One person died after a confrontation with police, while at least 21 have been arrested.
Governor Fátima Bezerra said via Twitter that "there is already a decrease in the number of incidents, but our government remains attentive and focused on overcoming this difficult moment as soon as possible."