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Buenos Aires declares emergency over spike in robberies, assaults

BUENOS AIRES -- A year-long public security emergency was declared Saturday in Buenos Aires after a spate of violent robberies and assaults sparked a wave of vigilante action.

Some 5,000 retired police officers will beef up patrols in Argentina's most populous province, which is home to about 40 percent of the country's 40 million people.

Last week, a series of robbery-murders triggered a furious response from people who attempted to lynch suspected thieves. Some of them were beaten to death in the street.

Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli, an ally of President Cristina Kirchner with aspirations to the presidency, said the decree will free up 600 million pesos (US$75 million) to ramp up security.

He announced a decentralized system for emergency calls, a “panic button” app for mobile phones and measures against drug trafficking, which he blamed for the worst of the rise in crime.

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