Brazil police arrest 4 linked to pro-Bolsonaro protests

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil's federal police on Thursday arrested four people accused of trying to invade police headquarters in the capital city of Brasilia earlier this month.

Authorities said the suspects, most of whom are supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, also vandalized a police precinct and set several vehicles and buses on fire.

Police said in a news conference Thursday that officers began serving 11 arrests warrants and 21 search and seizure warrants in several states, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as part of “Operation Nero.”

Brazilian authorities have been faced with outbursts of violence following Bolsonaro's loss in the Oct. 30 election to President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Angry backers of the far-right leader who refuse to acknowledge his defeat have blocked roads and highways, set vehicles on fires and camped outside military buildings asking for the armed forces to intervene.

Authorities said dozens of people tried to invade Brasilia police headquarters on the night of Dec. 12 with the aim of rescuing a pro-Bolsonaro indigenous leader that had been arrested earlier that day. After being thwarted, the crowd started spreading throughout the city, committing a series of acts of vandalism.

Authorities made no arrests that night and have since been investigating those involved, under the supervision of the Supreme Court, which is in charge of the case.

Police said most of the people targeted by Operation Nero have at some point frequented the pro-Bolsonaro encampment outside the military headquarters in Brasilia.

Lula's future Justice Minister, Flávio Dino, called for authorities to take down the protests in Brasilia, calling them “incubators for terrorists.”

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