At least 25 people, including at least one police officer, have been killed in Rio de Janeiro in a shootout during a police raid targeting drug traffickers in the city’s Jacarezinho neighbourhood, according to civil police.
It was the highest-ever death toll from a police raid in the state, which has for decades suffered from drug-related violence.
“This is the highest number of deaths in a police operation in Rio, surpassing 19 in Complexo do Alemão in 2007,” Chief of Police Ronaldo Oliveira said.
“Only in that one we didn’t lose anyone. Now, a police officer has died, which is a great loss for us,” he said.
Two passengers on a metro train were also wounded in the crossfire in the northern Rio neighbourhood, according to the fire brigade, which said they were not seriously hurt.
Jacarezinho is a poor neighbourhood with few public services, known as a favela.
The BCC reports the police operation was launched after police learned that drug traffickers were recruiting children for their gang.
When was the last time Rio police killed so many people during a single operation?
At least 25 people reportedly died in Jacarezinho today, including one officer.
— ALPHA PRO (@DTMsport) May 6, 2021
Residents of the favela have taken to social media to share what they said they witnessed during the dramatic shoot-out, posting graphic photos of blood-covered floors and dead bodies.
One man said two people had died in his house as police chased the criminals, according to the BBC.
“We’re trying to sell the house as fast as possible, we can’t continue to live here,” he said.
Aerial TV footage showed suspects fleeing police by jumping between rooftops in search of an escape route while policemen were forced to disembark from armoured vehicles to pass several barricades erected in the streets.
According to police, helicopters located the gang’s headquarters in Jacarezinho and at least 10 suspects were arrested.
Police sources said gang leaders were likely among the dead.
Rio de Janeiro is one of Brazil’s most violent states with drug-trafficking gangs controlling large areas.