SAO PAULO – A photojournalist was shot and six police officers were wounded during a shootout between law enforcement agents and suspected drug addicts in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, officials said Thursday.
“The situation is under control. The reporter was assisted since he was seriously wounded, but he is stable now. Apparently, he was shot in the leg, hit in the thigh,” a police spokesman told EFE.
A police tactical unit raided downtown Sao Paulo’s Cracolandia area, known for high drug use and trafficking.
During the operation, suspected drug users set mattresses and tires on fire to block officers’ access to Helvetia Street, a thoroughfare controlled by gangs.
“It all started with an attack by (Cracolandia) residents,” the police spokesman said.
Photojournalist Dario Oliveira, who works for regional news agency Codigo 19, “was doing his job and there was a confrontation,” the police spokesman said, adding that eight people were arrested in the operation.
Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the rioters, who attacked officers with rocks, sticks and Molotov cocktails.
In March, Sao Paulo city officials plan to implement a new program to provide drug addicts with medical care and shelter at municipal facilities.
Under the new plan, city officials expect to assist residents while improving public safety in the area.