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Brazil murder tally soars to record high

Data by Brazilian think-tank shows that many of the murders were concentrated in the poorer northeastern states.

Brazil's armed forces

The number of people murdered in a single year in Brazil has hit a new high, with the South American country registering a record homicide rate of cases in 2017, according to a new report.

The Brazilian Forum of Public Security on Thursday estimated that the murder rate in Brazil witnessed a 2.9 percent rise last year compared to 2016, with the murder rate now standing at 30.8 percent per 100,000 people.

The yearbook data showed that many of the murders were concentrated in Brazil's poorer northeastern states. The figures included police officers killed in the line of duty.

According to the think-tank's Annual Public Security Report, the State of Rio Grande do Norte in northeastern Brazil recorded the highest murder rate in the country, with some 68 murders occurred for every 100,000 inhabitants.

Acne state in the north came in second with 63 deaths for every 100,000 people, followed by the state of Ceara in the northeast with 59.1 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants.  

The wealthier state of Sao Paulo had the lowest murder rate of any state - 10.7 homicides per 100,000 people.

Growing violence is a key voter concern ahead of the country's election in October, which takes place against the backdrop of massive high-level corruption scandals and a rise in crime amid tighter law enforcement budgets.

Far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who leads polling in the presidential race excluding jailed former president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, wants to loosen gun laws and toughen up policing to tackle the rise in violence.

His popularity has forced opponents, including centrist former governor Geraldo Alckmin, to join forces with law-and-order conservatives to bolster their crime-fighting credentials.

Earlier in February, Brazil's President Michel Temer signed an emergency decree authorising the country's armed forces to take over policing duties in Rio de Janeiro.

The emergency measure, the first of its kind since Brazil returned to democracy after the end of a military dictatorship in the mid-1980s, came in response to a rise in violence and and organised crime.

Thursday's report noted that crime against women was also on the rise with cases of rape going up by 8.4 percent to reach 60,018,

Cases of domestic abuses totaled 221,238 or approximately an average of 606 every day. Violence against children meanwhile stood at 4,539. 

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