SAO PAULO – Two civilians were killed and a police station was burned to the ground during a clash between residents and cops in the northern Brazilian state of Para, authorities said.
The spokesman for the state Public Safety Office, Emanuel Villaza, told Efe that two police officers were wounded in the incident in Tracuateua, a town 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of Belem, Para’s capital.
Police fired their guns “in legitimate self defense,” he said.
Villaza said that while leaders of the crowd said they wanted police to hand over a suspect in a deadly robbery, the real purpose of the protest was to drive out the cops.
He said drug traffickers paid the mob to attack the police station.
Authorities reached that conclusion based on the use of Molotov cocktails, which Villaza described as unprecedented in a spontaneous protest, and on the failure of the crowd to go after any of the prisoners released from the burning police station.
“The author of the robbery-murder had been transferred to Manituba, 100 kilometers (away). The thing about the lynching was an excuse by criminal groups to make the police station disappear,” the spokesman said.
Police have identified the ringleaders and will soon ask a judge to issue arrest warrants, Villaza said. EFE