RIO DE JANEIRO – At least seven people died on Saturday in clashes between police and suspected drug traffickers in one of the sprawling “favelas” (shantytowns) of the Brazilian metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, where the military was put in charge of security more than a month ago.
The Military Police of Rio de Janeiro State said the incident occurred in the Rocinha favela, which is located near the affluent neighborhoods of Leblon and Ipanema that are popular with tourists, and erupted when a group of officers patrolling the area came under attack by suspected drug traffickers.
Following the clashes, six suspected criminals were found wounded and taken to a municipal hospital, authorities said initially on social media.
But the state Military Police force confirmed later that seven suspects had been wounded and that all died after having been admitted to the hospital.
The incident comes amid a security crackdown in Rio de Janeiro state, where since mid-February Brazil’s armed forces have been coordinating the actions of the police.
Since Brazilian President Michel Temer gave the military control of public security, the armed forces have carried out various operations in the favelas but have not directly clashed with suspected criminals.
Thus far, the deployment has not succeeded in halting a growing wave of violence that dates back to the 2016 Olympics and left 6,731 people dead last year.