RIO DE JANEIRO – At least four people were killed and three others wounded during a law enforcement operation on Monday in Jacarezinho, a shantytown in the northern section of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, police said.
The victims have not been identified and police did not say whether they were suspects, officers or residents.
The Rio de Janeiro Health Secretariat, for its part, said three people, including a woman and a police officer, were wounded in the operation and transported to Salgado Filho Hospital in the neighboring Meier district.
A Globo television helicopter reporting on the operation, which targeted drug traffickers based in the community, shot video of a police officer beating a suspect who had surrendered.
The internal affairs department said it opened an investigation of the incident.
The Special Operations Command, backed by riot police and K-9 units, staged the operation in Jacarezinho.
Metropolitan train service between Rio de Janeiro and the city of Belford Roxo was partially suspended due to the police operation, and criminals blocked the roads leading in and out of Jacarezinho to prevent police armored cars from entering the “favela,” or shantytown.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s third most populous state, has been plagued by violence in recent years, with police battling drug traffickers and gangs waging turf wars.
Even though the total number of murders in the state dropped slightly from 6,749 in 2017 to 6,714 in 2018, the homicide rate remains quite high at 39.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, the Brazilian Public Safety Forum said in a report released last week.
The group said Rio de Janeiro accounted for nearly 25 percent of the police-involved killings registered in 2018 at 1,534 cases because the government responded to the surge in violence by allowing soldiers to participate in crime-fighting operations.