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More Than 170 Killed in Brazil Gang Violence


Brazilian authorities say the death toll from gang violence that has rocked Sao Paulo state for a week now stands at 170.

Officials say 14 suspected criminals were killed in new clashes with police Thursday, bringing to 107 the number of suspects who have died this past week. Police officers, civilians and inmates have also been killed since the trouble began last Friday.

Earlier, jailed gang leader Marcos Camacho warned of more attacks and told Brazilian television, Bandeirantes, his First Command of the Capital gang was responsible. Authorities have since been ordered to place him in solitary confinement for 90 days.

Authorities say jailed gang leaders used contraband cell phones to coordinate the violence, which has included rebellions in at least 70 prisons and attacks on police stations.

The country's Communication Minister Helio Costa announced plans to begin blocking cell phone signals in prisons.

Officials say the attacks were ordered to protest the transfer of several imprisoned leaders to maximum security facilities.

The violence has raised concerns among human rights groups that authorities are resorting to extra-judicial killings to stamp out the trouble. But Sao Paulo Governor Claudio Lembo says the situation is under control.

He also tells the leading newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo, the violence is a wake-up call for the nation and blamed the unrest in part on Brazil's social inequalities.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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