By Staff and agencies in Rio de Janeiro

Police killings in the state of Rio de Janeiro have hit a record high, rising by 18% in the first three months of this year.

Official data reviewed by the Associated Press on Friday show police forces in Rio killed 434 people during clashes in those months, compared with 368 people in same period last year.

The number is the highest since record keeping began in 1998. The data was released on 17 April.

The rise comes under the watch of the Governor Wilson Witzel, a former marine and political ally of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Witzel has promised a zero-tolerance policy against criminals, calling drug traffickers “narco-terrorists” and vowing to ease gun possession laws.

Earlier this year, he confirmed plans to implement shoot-to-kill policing tactics in the region.