At least 8 dead as cops raid Rio slum amid sharp rise in killings by police

At least 8 dead as cops raid Rio slum amid sharp rise in killings by police
# 07 May 2019 06:51 (UTC +04:00)

At least eight people died when police raided a drug-scarred Rio de Janeiro neighborhood on Monday, amid a sharp jump in police killing of suspected criminals in the state that underlines the tough new security measures favored by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, ONA reports quoting Reuters.

The raid began around 11 a.m., according to local media reports, and triggered a massive shootout between police and suspected gangsters. TV images showed a police helicopter hovering overhead as the gun battle emptied out local schools, with pupils fleeing through the streets.

In a statement, Rio’s civil police said the operation was aimed at detaining Thomaz Jhayson Vieira Gomes, known as “3N,” a suspected drug baron.

“There was resistance from the criminals and eight suspected traffickers were shot and killed in the confrontation,” the statement said. “Three others were taken to the police station, including one of 3N’s personal security guards and 3N’s wife.”

The number of people in Rio state killed by police hit a quarterly record of 434 during the first three months of 2019, up 18 percent compared with the same period last year. The first-quarter tally was the highest since state records began in 1998, and comes as the number of statewide murders has fallen.

Rio Governor Wilson Witzel, who took office on Jan. 1, has urged police to take no prisoners in the battle against drug gangs and even suggested during the campaign using helicopters with snipers to take out gang bosses.

Over the weekend, Witzel tweeted a video of himself onboard a police helicopter during a police raid on gangs in the city of Angra dos Reis, south of Rio.

Witzel’s views echo those of Bolsonaro, a former army captain and federal lawmaker who represented Rio state for nearly 30 years. Bolsonaro has long advocated tough measures to kneecap violent gangs and quickly moved to loosen gun laws after he took office at the start of the year. Nonetheless, his flagship crime-fighting bill languishes in Congress.