Brazililan police say 18 people have been killed during an operation to capture a criminal group that controls a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Four hundred heavily armed military police were deployed in the Alemão favela during the early hours of Thursday morning.
Sixteen of the dead were suspected criminals, while a police officer and a bystander were the other two victims, officials said. The police operation lasted the whole day, because of which thousands of people had to stay in their homes.
The aim was to locate and arrest criminals who were planning to attack rival clans, police said. Some of the targets were dressed in military uniforms, making them harder to spot, local media O Dia reported.
"The aim of the police is to kill"
In addition to 400 police officers, there were 10 bulletproof vehicles and four helicopters on the ground.
Locals carried the injured and helped while the police watched, the BBC reports. Gilberto Santiago Lopes, of the Anacrim Human Rights Commission, said the police refused to help. "The goal of the police is not to arrest, but to kill.
That's why they think the injured don't deserve help," he told Reuters. Police actions like this are not uncommon in Rio de Janeiro's favelas as police try to catch gangs of drug smugglers. But human rights groups in Brazil are highly critical of police operations in overcrowded poor communities.
They say such actions put residents' lives at risk without actually reducing the power of gangs. In May, 22 people were killed in the Vila Cruzeiro favela. including one passerby. Last year, at least 25 people, including a police officer, were killed in a shooting in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s a massacre inside, which police are calling an operation,” one woman told The Associated Press news agency, speaking on condition of anonymity because she feared reprisals from authorities. “They’re not letting us help [victims],” she added, saying she saw one man arrested for attempting to do so.