Deadly police shootout prompts claims of abuse in Brazil
A bloody, hourslong gunbattle in a Rio de Janeiro slum echoed into Friday, with authorities saying the police mission successfully eliminated two dozen criminals while residents and activists claimed human rights abuses.It was just after sunrise Thursday when dozens of officers from Rio de Janeiro states civil police stormed Jacarezinho, a favela in the citys northern zone.
A bloody, hourslong gunbattle in a Rio de Janeiro slum echoed into Friday, with authorities saying the police mission successfully eliminated two dozen criminals while residents and activists claimed human rights abuses.
It was just after sunrise Thursday when dozens of officers from Rio de Janeiro state's civil police stormed Jacarezinho, a favela in the city's northern zone. They were targeting drug traffickers from one of Brazil's most notorious criminal organizations, Comando Vermelho, and the bodies piled up quickly.
When the fighting stopped, there were 25 dead — one police officer and 24 people described by the police as “criminals.” Rio's moniker of “Marvelous City” can often seem a cruel irony in the favelas, given their stark poverty, violent crime and subjugation to drug traffickers or militias. But even here, Thursday's clash was a jarring anomaly that analysts declared one of the city's deadliest police operations ever.
The bloodshed also laid bare Brazil's perennial divide over whether, as a common local saying goes, “a good criminal is a dead criminal.” Fervent law-and-order sentiment fuelled the successful presidential run in 2018 by Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain whose home is in Rio. He drew support from much of society with his calls to diminish legal constraints on officers' use of lethal force against criminals.
The administration of Rio state's Gov. Cláudio Castro, a Bolsonaro ally, said in an emailed statement that it lamented the deaths, but that the operation was “oriented by long and detailed investigative and intelligence work that took months.” The raid sought to rout gang recruitment of teenagers, police said in an earlier statement, which also cited Comando Vermelho's “warlike structure of soldiers equipped with rifles, grenades, bulletproof vests.” Television images showed a police helicopter flying low over the Jacarezinho favela as men with high-powered rifles hopped from roof to roof to evade officers. Others didn't escape. One resident told The Associated Press that a man barged into her home around 8 am bleeding from a gunshot wound. He hid in her daughter's room, but police came rushing in right behind him. She said that she and her family saw officers shoot the unarmed man.
Hours later, his blood was still pooled on her tile floor and soaked into a blanket decorated with hearts.(AP) RUP RUP
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