Daylong spasm of violence leaves 27 dead in northern Brazil

Army troops patrol the streets of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil on January 22, 2017 (AFP Photo/ANDRESSA ANHOLETE) (AFP/File)

Sao Paulo (AFP) - A wave of violence has left 27 people dead in the Brazilian state of Para, a bloodletting authorities say might have been provoked by the murder of a police officer.

The killings took place over a daylong stretch from Friday into Saturday, and included what authorities said appeared to be several execution-style murders.

A government statement said officials are investigating whether the deadly violence -- centered mostly in and around the city of Belem -- was linked to the death of Rafael da Silva Costa, an officer fatally shot early Friday during a police operation on the city outskirts.

Brazil has had an unusually bloody start to the year, especially in its impoverished north, which has also been wracked by prison violence that claimed the lives of scores of inmates in recent weeks.