Rio police kill drugs suspects

Three suspected drug traffickers have been killed by police in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, bringing to 29 the number of deaths since violence broke out over the weekend.

They were killed on Wednesday after they opened fire on police officers searching a slum in the north of the city for gang members linked to the downing of a police helicopter on Saturday, Oderlei Santos, a police spokesman, said.

Other police operations are continuing across the city of six million people, Santos said, adding that there was at least one other gun battle between police and armed groups.

State authorities have sent out thousands of police officers across Rio to maintain security and search for drug traffickers who caused the helicopter to crash, killing three police officers.

Before the shooting of the three suspected drugs gang members on Wednesday, 23 suspected traffickers and three residents had been killed since Saturday.

The killings come just a few weeks after Rio was declared host of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Residents fearful

People living in a slum close to where the helicopter went down fled their homes on Tuesday night.

They said that they had heard rumours that a gang from another slum was planning to enter the area.

“Everyone is afraid of going back to their homes, it’s better to stay on the street,” one male resident, who asked not to be identified, said.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, has offered the state of Rio almost $60m over six months to help the authorities crack down on the violence.

Hundreds of innocent residents have been killed or wounded by police due to tactics that have been condemned by several human rights groups.

The police last year killed more than 1,100 suspects they described as “resisting arrest”.

Residents killed in police raids are often called suspected criminals – with no investigations carried out to back up the charges.

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