Rio de Janeiro, May 6 (EFE).- At least 25 people were killed and five others wounded Thursday when 200 police officers descended on a slum in Rio de Janeiro to conduct an operation against a drug-dealing gang, Brazilian media said, citing unnamed authorities.
One police officer and 24 suspects died, according to those accounts.
Police sources told Efe that official casualty figures would be released only after the ongoing operation was over.
The shooting began early Thursday, soon after the 200 police entered Jacarezinho, an impoverished, crime-ridden favela (shantytown) on Rio’s north side, to arrest gang members linked to murders, kidnapping and robberies.
Authorities said the gang has taken to recruiting minors to carry out crimes.
Residents said they sheltered in their homes amid the sound of gunfire, explosions and police helicopters hovering over the neighborhood.
Those wounded in the clashes include two passengers on a passing metro train. Witnesses said that both men were hurt by a single bullet that hit one of them in the arm before striking the other in the head.
There was no word on their condition.
Jacarezinho is reputed to a bastion of Comando Vermelho (Red Command), the most powerful drug outfit operating in Rio de Janeiro.
Gunfights involving gangs, police and the self-styled militias who battle the gangs to clear for the field for their own criminal enterprises are common in the favelas of Brazil’s second-largest city.
During the first half of 2020, police in Rio de Janeiro state killed 775 people, a quarter of the national total. EFE mat/dr