Brazil's hardline president Jair Bolsonaro faces fiery first test of crackdown on gangs

This is the aftermath of widespread violence in Brazil as the country's new hardline president faces his first major challenge in office following a crackdown on prisons.

Authorities reported a surge in criminal violence, days after President Jair Bolsonaro's inauguration, as shops, banks, buses and police stations were torched and shot at in dozens of attacks in Fortaleza and 10 other cities.

Banks were targeted. Credit: AP

The president sent in more than 300 elite National Police Force troops to deal with the unrest in the northeastern state of Ceara.

President Bolsonaro justified the deployment of troops, saying he was responding to local authorities and the local populations affected needed help.

The attacks came days after Jair Bolsonaro and his wife Michelle celebrated his inauguration. Credit: AP

Officials said the public attacks are by gangs in retaliation to plans to impose new tougher measures on jails which are largely controlled by criminal groups.

Authorities have blocked mobile phone reception and ended a policy of blocking inmates by gang affiliation.

A torched car. Credit: AP
Fire crews tackle the blazing vehicles in Fortaleza. Credit: AP