24 Nov 2010

Rio police fight back against gang campaign

9:29 pm on 24 November 2010

Police in Rio de Janeiro have launched an operation to try to stop a wave of violence by criminal gangs.

Gang members have been blocking roads, burning cars and shooting at police stations for three days.

The BBC reports military police are deployed in 17 slum districts.

State governor Sergio Cabral says the violence is retaliation by drugs gangs who have been driven out of some areas by a police programme.

More than 1000 officers have been taken away from desk jobs to join the push on the streets and 300 extra motorcycle police are on patrol.

Governor Sergio Cabral has also asked the central government for police reinforcements from outside Rio to keep the main highways open.

At least one suspected gang member has been shot dead. More than eight others have been arrested, including four suspects who were found with petrol bombs in the Copacabana beach neighbourhood.

Armed men have been blocking some of the main roads leading out of Rio since Saturday night, robbing motorists and setting their vehicles on fire.


Authorities in Brazil are convinced that the attacks are being orchestrated by drugs gangs in retaliation for being forced out of their traditional strongholds in some slum districts.

The BBC reports police have been taking back control of poor neighbourhoods, known as favelas, which have been controlled for years by heavily armed drug trafficking gangs.

The police campaign is aimed at improving security and the rule of law in the city, which will host the FIFA football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.