RIO DE JANEIRO – An hours-long shootout on Monday in the Rio de Janeiro shantytown made famous in the 2002 film “City of God” shined a spotlight on the violence that has driven the homicide rate in Brazil’s second-largest city to seven per day.
One officer was wounded in the exchange of shots.
Cops and drug dealers battled for nearly six hours, forcing authorities to shut down the main road in the “favela” known as Cidade de Deus (City of God) and to close schools in the area.
EFE journalists saw gunmen ambush officers as they sought to enter the neighborhood to reinforce the sizable police contingent stationed in Cidade de Deus as part of a program to pacify Rio’s favelas.
That initiative, which was accompanied by military operations against entrenched criminal gangs, succeeded in reducing violence in the city, but only for a while.
Roughly 90 percent of the more than 38,000 homicides recorded in Rio since 2002 have gone unsolved, news Web site G1 said Monday.
The city experienced 49.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in 2007, prior to the launch of the pacification plan. By 2012, the rate had declined to 28.7 murders per 100,000.
Last year, the rate was 37.6 murders for every 100,000 residents, for a total of 6,248 homicides, according to G1.