Less than three months before Rio welcomes tens of thousands
of foreign soccer fans for the World Cup, the attacks cast new
doubts on government efforts to expel gangs from slums using a
strong police presence. The city will host the Olympics in 2016.
Rio de Janeiro state Governor Sérgio Cabral met president Dilma
Rousseff on Friday morning and asked for federal troops to be
deployed to help stop the attacks on police units overseeing
slums across Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city.
"They (gangs) want us to retreat, but with the help of the
president and the federal government we will continue to
advance," Cabral said after meeting with Rousseff and securing
the dispatch of troops to Rio.
On Thursday night, shooting broke out between drug traffickers
and police in a slum near the Manguinhos complex of shantytowns.
Three policemen were shot and wounded, including the Manguinhos
police chief, local media reported. The attackers set fire to
and destroyed the local police post housed in a converted cargo
The gangs, made up mainly of drug traffickers, knocked down
power lines during the attack, leaving Manguinhos in the dark.
Violence is on the rise again in the slums ringing Rio that were
"pacified" in recent years by police occupations as drug
traffickers seek to reconquer their lost territory.
The backlash to the police operations in Rio has heightened
concerns about security and law and order during the World Cup
and the Olympics, global events that political leaders had hoped
would showcase the emergence of a modern Brazil.
An estimated 600,000 foreign soccer fans will arrive in Brazil
for the World Cup in June. Seven games will be played in Rio,
including the tournament's July 13 final, in the legendary
Maracaná stadium located a few miles from the Manguinhos slums.
The use of excess force by the police has angered residents and
led to criticism from international human right groups of
Brazilians were shocked this week by images of a woman who was
shot and then dragged along the street by a police car when her
body fell out of the trunk following a shootout in a slum.
To date, 36 Rio slum areas have been pacified with more than
9,000 police patrolling neighborhoods where 1.5 million people
live. Initial success in evicting the gangs was applauded, but
the police operations have been criticized for merely displacing
crime to other slums.
(Reporting by Walter Brandimarte, Pedro Fonseca and Rodrigo Viga
Gaier; editing by Anthony Boadle and Stephen Powell)
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