RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) — A police officer was shot and killed in a Rio de Janeiro hillside shantytown that's become a symbol of the Olympic city's showcase slum pacification programme, the state's public safety agency said yesterday.
Fabiana Aparecida dos Santos was the "most recent victim of the high-powered guns used by the drug traffickers who are still resisting" the pacification of the Alemao slum, a sprawling hillside complex in northern Rio, the state Security Secretariat said in a statement. It didn't provide details on the circumstances of Santos' death, but media reports say the 30-year-old was hit inside a police base during an overnight firefight.
Rio's O Globo newspaper said Santos was the first officer killed while on duty with the pacifying police, a unit created in 2008 to help push drug lords out of Rio's notoriously dangerous slums before the city plays host to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. Federal soldiers helped take over Alemao during its 2010 pacification but pulled out earlier this month, leaving the complex in the hands of the military police. Tensions have frequently erupted ever since.
A separate report in O Globo said the body of another military police officer who worked in the Alemao slum was found on Monday in a ditch in another of Rio's slum, known as "favelas." The bullet-riddled corpse of 39-year-old Marcio Machado Melo bore signs of torture, the report said, adding there were cuts on his face and he was missing an ear. No motive has been put forward, and Melo's death is under investigation, the report said.
For decades, drug lords ruled many of Rio's several hundred favelas as their private fiefdoms, violently dispensing justice and demanding loyalty from residents. Under the slum pacification programme, police and occasionally military forces stormed the slums, taking them over and pushing the drug dealers to other shantytowns. Levels of violence in Rio have dropped since the start of the programme, which has become a Rio state government centerpiece.
More than 21 permanent police units with nearly 4,000 officers have been created citywide, covering some 89 shantytowns.