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At least 18 killed in latest deadly police raid in Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 21 (Reuters) – At least 18 people died on Thursday during a major police operation in a densely fought Rio de Janeiro slum, state military police said, in the latest bloody clashes in Brazil’s second-largest city.

Rio de Janeiro’s civilian and military police tactical teams raided the Alemão complex to dismantle an alleged criminal organization. The group was suspected of involvement in cargo theft and bank robberies and was planning to infiltrate rival slums, military police said in a statement.

At least 18 people died in the raid: a police officer, 16 alleged criminals and a woman pedestrian, police said. About 400 officers, four aircraft and 10 armored vehicles were involved in the operation.

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On the one hand, the death toll has raised fears of rights violations.

“There are signs of major human rights violations and this is likely to be one of the operations with the highest number of deaths in Rio de Janeiro,” the state public defender’s office said in a statement.

Military police declined to comment beyond their statement.

Rio state police forces regularly carry out deadly raids on the city’s sprawling slums. President Jair Bolsonaro has backed heavy-handed police tactics in their fight against organized crime and said gangsters “must die like cockroaches.”

After the operation, the police saw locals pushing the injured people behind the vehicle to take them to the hospital. Gilberto Santiago Lopes of the Anacrim Human Rights Commission said the police refused to help.

“We had to take them to a drinks truck, and then flag down a local resident in their car and take them to the hospital,” he said. “(The police) don’t aim to arrest them, they aim to kill them, so if they’re injured they think they don’t deserve help.”

Local residents got angry and shouted at the police.

After the raid, a local shouted, “We are afraid to stay here.” “Where are we? Afghanistan? At war? In Iraq? If they want war, send them to Iraq.”

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Reporting by Ricardo Moraes and Sergio Queiroz, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Policy.

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