Rio police raid kills at least 18

·2-min read

At least 18 people have been killed during a police raid in Rio de Janeiro's largest complex of favelas, or low-income communities, the state's military police says.

Associated Press reporters saw residents carrying about 10 bodies as bystanders shouted "we want peace".

"It's a massacre inside, which police are calling an operation," one woman told AP on Thursday.

"They're not letting us help (victims)," she added, saying she saw one man arrested for attempting to do so.

Ivan Blas, spokesperson for the Brazilian state's military police, said at a news conference that the number of dead was still being tallied.

In earlier statements, the force said that an officer was killed, and the raid had targeted a criminal group in Complexo do Alemao that stole vehicles and cargo and robbed banks as well as invaded nearby neighbourhoods.

"I will continue to fight crime with all my strength. We will not back down from the mission of guaranteeing peace and security to the people of our state," said Rio state governor Claudio Castro on his official Twitter profile, lamenting the officer's death.

But many disagree with the government's strategy for tackling violence and organised crime, an approach that regularly sees deadly police operations.

"ENOUGH of this genocidal policy, governor!" Taliria Petrone, a federal lawmaker for Rio, said in response to the governor's tweet.

"This failed public security policy leaves residents and police on the ground, en masse. It's no longer possible to keep piling up black bodies and favela residents every day!"

Alemao is a complex of 13 favelas in northern Rio, home to about 70,000 people. Nearly three-quarters of them are black or biracial, according to a 2020 study by the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economical Analyses.

Earlier this year, Brazil's Supreme Court established conditions for police to conduct raids in Rio's favelas, ordering that lethal force be used only in situations in which all other means have been exhausted and when necessary to protect life.

The ruling came in response to a raid on the Jacarezinho favela in 2021 that resulted in 28 people being killed.

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