More than 200 police on strike over pay peacefully vacated the state legislature in the Brazilian state of Bahia early Thursday after a nine-day standoff, officials said.
"The state assembly was vacated early this morning... Their leader, Marco Prisco, has been arrested," said government spokesman Robinson Almeida.
"They gave up and left."
The strike unleashed a massive crime wave in which more than 120 people were murdered in and around the state capital Salvador, Brazil's third largest city, in just nine days, more than twice the usual homicide rate.
Some 3,500 soldiers and elite police were sent to the area to restore order.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Marcio Cunha told reporters that Prisco and another strike leader had been arrested. Authorities had issued arrest warrants for Prisco and 11 others.
A government official said the end of the nine-day occupation of the legislature meant "the end of the strike."
But the police mutineers and their supporters insisted that the strike was still on. They are demanding a pay hike, better working conditions and an amnesty for their leaders.
"The strike continues. Society cannot abandon its rights," said Ricardo Amando de Quirinos, one of the striking police officers who vacated the legislature.
Bahia governor Jaques Wagner had agreed to meet the strikers' demand for a 17 percent pay hike, but ruled out any amnesty for those strikers who engaged in "criminal acts."
The local government official said the police mutineers "surrendered because they were isolated in society and within their own military police force."
"Prisco gave himself up to avert a bloodbath," police officer Paulo Goncalves said outside the legislature.
The strike had raised concerns as Salvador, home to 2.5 million people, prepares to welcome hundreds of thousands of tourists for its famed Carnival celebrations later this month.
Salvador is also one of the 12 Brazilian cities to host football matches in the 2014 World Cup.
The federal government had also expressed fear that the unrest might spread to the states of Rio de Janeiro -- where policemen called a strike for Friday -- Para, Parana, Alagoas, Espirito Santo and Rio Grande do Sul.
Press reports on Wednesday quoted police intelligence as saying the situation in those states was "explosive."
Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo, in an interview with O Estado de Sao Paulo published Wednesday, spoke of an orchestrated campaign of violence around the country by disgruntled state military police seeking higher pay and better working conditions.
The poorly paid military police -- a state force distinct from the federal police in Brazil -- is responsible for maintaining law and order.
They are called "military" because of their organizational structure, but are not part of the armed forces.
"We are witnessing increased vandalism during these strikes," Cardozo told the Sao Paulo daily.
"There are growing attempts to sow panic among the population, something which is unacceptable on the part of police officers," he said.© ANP/AFP