Rio de Janeiro, Jul 21 (EFE).- Eighteen people were fatally shot Thursday during a police operation against a gang of armed robbers in a sprawling Rio de Janeiro shantytown, Brazilian authorities said.
Sixteen of those killed were suspects, Rio state police spokesman Ivan Blaz told a press conference following hours of violence in the Complexo do Alemao favela.
Police Cpl. Bruno de Paula Costa died of wounds received in an attack on a precinct, while 50-year-old resident Leticia Marinho de Sales was fatally shot in her car, the spokesman said.
Relatives of the civilian victim said that the lethal bullet came from the gun of a police officer.
Some 400 officers, supported by 10 armored vehicles and four aircraft, entered the shantytown on Rio’s north side early Thursday in pursuit of members of a gang blamed for vehicle thefts, bank robberies and hijacking freight trucks.
Authorities said that the police came under fire at several different points in Complexo do Alemao and that the weapons seized during the raid included a .50-caliber machine gun, which is capable of bringing down a helicopter.
A July 12 police operation in the same area left six people dead, while 25 people were killed two months ago in a similar raid in the Vila Cruzeiro favela.
Deadly confrontations between police and organized crime are frequent in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.
Nationwide, more than 6,100 people died at the hands of police in 2021, according to the Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security, and the Rio state ombud’s office said in a statement that Thursday’s police raid in Complexo do Alemao appeared to have been marked by “serious violations of human rights.” EFE mat/dr