ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — Paraguay's leftist president wants to impose military rule in the northern half of the country to help soldiers put an end to attacks by a group of leftist guerrillas.

Fernando Lugo is asking Congress to declare a state of emergency in five of Paraguay's 17 departments.

The request comes a day after the so-called Paraguayan People's Army allegedly killed a police officer and three workers while attacking a farm to steal animals.

Lugo said Thursday that a state of emergency will free the military to take actions that will bring the criminals to justice and return peace to the northern countryside.

Critics have accused Lugo of being too soft on the rebel group.