Nine killed in new clash between Brazil police, gangs

At least nine people were killed Wednesday in a police operation targeting criminal gangs in a complex of slums in Rio de Janeiro, authorities said, the latest in a series of deadly security force raids across Brazil.

The Rio raid brought the death toll from six days of police crackdowns on drug gangs in Brazil to at least 42, including 14 in Sao Paulo state and 19 in the northeastern state of Bahia.

Rio state police said officers had returned fire after coming under attack during a raid on a meeting by organized crime bosses in the Complexo da Penha group of favelas, on the city’s north side.

The deaths come amid mounting calls for independent investigations of alleged police abuses in Brazil, where the security forces have faced accusations of human-rights violations in their war with heavily armed drug gangs.

Rio state police said the operation came after officers received intelligence on a high-level meeting by gang leaders.

“A clash occurred when police teams came under attack by gunmen at the scene,” they said in a statement.

“Eleven suspects were wounded” and taken to the hospital, it said.

“Nine of them died of their injuries.”

A policeman was also wounded and is in stable condition, it added.

Rio state legislator Dani Monteiro noted the operation came just over a year after a May 2022 raid in a nearby favela that left 23 dead, the second-deadliest police operation in the city’s history.

Calling that raid a “massacre,” she criticized Rio state Governor Claudio Castro, a security hardliner and ally of far-right former president Jair Bolsonaro.

“Castro’s (in)security policy must stop!” Monteiro, a lawmaker for the left-wing PSOL party, wrote on X, formerly called Twitter.

AFP reporters outside the hospital where the wounded were taken described scenes of anxious residents waiting for news on injured relatives, amid a heavy police contingent and helicopters hovering overhead.


In Sao Paulo, police launched a massive anti-gang operation after a 30-year-old special forces officer was shot dead Thursday last week while on patrol in the port city of Guaruja.

Police have killed 14 alleged criminals so far during the operation, according to Sao Paulo Governor Tarcisio de Freitas, another Bolsonaro ally.

In the northeastern state of Bahia, officials meanwhile said 19 suspects in three different cities had been killed since Friday in clashes with police.

In all the cases, authorities said police had returned fire after coming under attack.

However, the killings have drawn criticism from rights groups in Brazil, where accusations of abuses by security forces are frequent.

The Sao Paulo operation shows “clear signs of vengeance for the death of a police officer,” said rights group Amnesty International.

“Residents have accused officers of abuses, intimidation and torture.”

Leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s justice minister, Flavio Dino, has also criticized the operation, saying the police reaction “doesn’t seem proportional to the crime committed.”

Last year, 6,429 people were killed by police in Brazil, according to the Public Security Forum, a watchdog group.

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