‘Like a Warzone’ – Nine dead as Brazilian police kill 9 in Rio slum

Brazil: Nine killed in clash between police and gangs

On Wednesday, at least nine people were killed during a police operation in a poor neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.

Authorities are claiming that all nine killed were gangsters, while also reporting that one police officer was hospitalized.

Video footage of the raid shows police in military gear as helicopters fly overhead. Gunshots can be heard throughout the video. The slum looks more like a warzone than a place where people reside.

This incident marks the latest in a series of deadly security force raids sweeping across Brazil. Over the past six days, the death toll has risen to at least 42 people due to police crackdowns on drug gangs, with 16 deaths in Sao Paulo state and 19 in the northeastern state of Bahia.

The high number of deaths has added to the mounting concerns surrounding the possible use of excessive force by the police during such raids. Critics of the police also point out the disparity between those killed by police and the number of police killed or injured.

In a previous incident in 2021, when a police operation in Rio’s gang-ridden Jacarezinho slum resulted in the deaths of at least 29 people, only one police officer lost his life. Critics have therefore accused the police of escalating violence and have demanded accountability for their actions.

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During the presidency of former President Jair Bolsonaro, police killings saw a significant rise. Bolsonaro sought to increase legal protections for officers involved in on-the-job killings and controversially stated that criminals should “die like cockroaches.”

The current left-wing President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who beat Bolsonaro in October 2022, has been more willing to criticize the police of his country.

For example, after Bolsonaro supporters stormed Brazil’s Congress in January, Lula criticized the capital police for “neglecting the threat.”

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Among the casualties in the Rio operation were “Fiel” and “Du Leme,” who police are alleging were gang leaders in the Juramento and Chatuba neighborhoods. Authorities have allegedly seized seven rifles, ammunition, and grenades from the suspects.

Brazil holds the unenviable title of having the highest number of murders worldwide. In 2021, almost 6,150 civilians were killed by police officers in Brazil, an average of 17 people per day. In 2022, more than 1,300 deaths by state agents were reported in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

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