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Armed forces weigh return to notorious Rio favelas

11 march 2014, 10:01
©Reuters/Pilar Olivares
©Reuters/Pilar Olivares
Hundreds of security forces could be deployed again to a notorious maze of slums in northern Rio, home to a major 2010 police action, after the death of three officers, AFP reports according to officials.

The area surrounding the Complexo do Alemao, a sprawling shantytown where police and armed forces fought in heavy 2010 clashes with drug traffickers controlling the zone, has been the site of three police deaths this year.

Brazilian authorities have vowed to "take back" the Rio slums, known as favelas, from the drug lords ahead of June's World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

"We open the doors to all institutions: the Navy, Army, Air Force, federal police... We will continue with the peace process and no one is going to stop us," Rio's state secretary of public security Jose Mariano Beltrame told O Globo newspaper.

"If we see that we need something stronger to occupy (the favelas), we will go ahead.

"We want a more rational and less traumatic event. Reoccupying the area with 500 or 600 police is not ruled out," Beltrame added.

During the 2010 clashes, the Defense Ministry made 800 soldiers, 10 military armored vehicles and two Air Force helicopters available to the state of Rio to reinforce some 17,500 police on the ground.

Since February this year, traffickers in the Complexo do Alemao and Complexo da Penha, another favela, have been attacking police in "pacification" units tasked with keeping order in Rio's densely populated hillside slums.

Some 38 pacification units have been deployed into 174 favelas -- home to more than 600,000 people -- in an operation that started six years ago, when the Rio government launched a campaign to improve safety ahead of Brazil's world sporting events.

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