Human rights body Amnesty International on Friday said that the Indonesian Police killed more than 70 “petty criminals” in “an excessive use of force” ahead of the 2018 Asian Games. The Games, , which will begin on Saturday, will be held in two cities – capital Jakarta and Palembang in South Sumatra province.

At least 77 people, including 31 in the host cities, have been shot dead across the country between January and August. A majority of the killings took place in police operations intended to prepare the cities and improve security ahead of the tournament from August 18 to September 2.

“In the months leading up to the Asian Games, the authorities promised to improve security for all,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid. “Instead, we have seen the police shooting and killing dozens of people across the country with almost zero accountability for the deaths.”

Hamid said hosting an international sporting event should not come at the “price of abandoning human rights”.

During a 10-day period crackdown that began on July 3, 11 people were killed and another 41 shot in the leg in greater Jakarta. Three people were also shot dead in South Sumatra. Out of the 5,000 people arrested, more than 700 were charged with a criminal offence.

“These shocking figures reveal a clear pattern of unnecessary and excessive use of force by the police, and a constant veil of impunity that taints public security institutions,” said Hamid.

Before the public safety operations started, top officials had announced that the police would take “firm actions”, including shooting on-sight anyone who resisted arrest or attacked police officers. On July 30, the chief of National Police said, “If they fight the officers during the arrest, then have no doubt, just shoot them.”

“The Asian Games are intended to celebrate human achievement, not provide a pretext for a police ‘shoot to kill’ policy in the name of crime control,” Phelim Kine, Deputy Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, told The Guardian.

Hamid called upon the National Commission on Human Rights and the National Police Commission to launch a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into the killings. “The killings must stop and all deaths must be promptly and effectively investigated,” he added.