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World

25 killed in police raid on Rio slum

  • At least two people were wounded when the subway car they were riding in was apparently caught in the crossfire during the operation, news site G1 reported.
Published May 7, 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO: A massive police operation against drug traffickers in a Brazilian favela Thursday left 25 people dead, turning the impoverished Rio de Janeiro neighborhood into a battlefield and drawing condemnation from rights groups.

Media reports said a policeman was among those killed in the early morning raid on Jacarezinho, on Rio's north side, where residents awoke to explosions, heavy gunfire and helicopters overhead.

Activists and media reports, citing the police, put the total death toll at 25 -- which, if confirmed, would be the deadliest police operation in the history of Rio de Janeiro state, rights groups said.

Police identified the other 24 dead as "suspects," but rights groups and academics said there was little evidence to back that up.

"Who are the dead? Young black men. That's why the police talk about '24 suspects.' Being a young, black favela resident automatically makes you a suspect to the police. They just keep piling up bodies and saying, 'They're all criminals,'" said Silvia Ramos, head of the Security Observatory at Candido Mendes University.

"Is this the public security policy we want? Shootouts, killings and police massacres?" she told AFP.

Large groups of heavily armed police could be seen streaming into the favela as frightened residents tentatively went about their business once the gunfire died down, AFP journalists said.

Residents reported seeing corpses lying on the pavement in pools of blood, and numerous bodies being taken out in an armored police vehicle, a local community leader told AFP, asking for safety reasons that his name not be published.

At least two people were wounded when the subway car they were riding in was apparently caught in the crossfire during the operation, news site G1 reported.

TV network GloboNews showed aerial images of armed suspects fleeing from one residence to another in the densely packed neighborhood during the raid, passing what looked like high-powered rifles from hand to hand.

Rights groups and residents later inspected the houses targeted, some with blood stains and damage from the shootout.

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