RIO DE JANEIRO -- At least six people were killed in a shootout with Brazilian police in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, authorities said, as officers sought to apprehend suspects in the slaying of a police officer two days earlier.
Two officers were wounded in the exchange of fire and three teenage boys were arrested, accused of drug trafficking and attempted homicide.
Tuesday’s firefight and the death Sunday of officer Alda Rafael, who was shot in the back, are the latest setbacks for Rio’s “pacification” program. Since 2008, the effort has sought to take back slums from the control of armed drug gangs in the run-up to soccer’s World Cup in June and the Olympic Games in 2016.
In some slums, there is evidence of continued or renewed control by drug gangs long after high-profile pacification projects were put in place.
Last year, AfroReggae, a respected nongovernmental organization that has long served as intermediary between communities controlled by drug gangs and the government, was forced to abandon its offices in the Complexo do Alemao favela, after receiving death threats from suspected drug traffickers and suffering an arson attempt. Alemao was declared pacified in 2010.
Rafael was on patrol as part of a police pacifying unit in north Rio de Janeiro. A government spokesperson confirmed Tuesday that she was the eighth on-duty officer killed during pacification operations.
“This death was not just hers. Society was shot in the back,” Jose Mariano Beltrame, Rio’s secretary of security, told reporters Monday, according to local press.
Bevins is a special correspondent.