RIO DE JANEIRO – A soldier wounded earlier this week during a sweep of shantytowns in this metropolis died of his wounds Wednesday, bringing to three the number of troops killed since Brazilian President Michel Temer’s Feb. 16 decree making the military responsible for public safety in Rio de Janeiro state.
The other two fatalities occurred Monday, as 4,200 troops, supported by helicopters and armored vehicles, began what the army now says will be an open-ended occupation of three major favela (shantytown) complexes that are home to more than 500,000 people.
Including the three soldiers, eight people have been killed since the start of the intervention, while as many as 70 suspects have been arrested.
The army has also confiscated 14 guns, five of them rifles, along with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and 554 kilos (1,220 lbs) of marijuana.
The army and police have expanded their operations in Rio in recent weeks, but the raids usually result in just a few arrests and the seizure of limited quantities of illegal weapons and drugs.
Shootings in Rio de Janeiro have increased by 40 percent since the start of the military intervention, while deaths in incidents involving the security forces are at a 30-year high, according to a study released last Thursday by researchers at Candido Mendes University.
As many as 736 people have died in the army’s anti-crime operations, in addition to 2,617 reported homicides.