By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Police officers led by an agent from Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) landed two armored police helicopters on Copacabana Beach in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) on Wednesday morning, much to the surprise of passers-by, to come to the aid of a group of tourists who were being robbed.
The officers had been returning from a training exercise on the Niterói side of the Guanabara Bay for Rio+20, the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development that begins in two weeks’ time, when they spotted the assault taking place on the sidewalk in Copacabana.
Seeing the beach was empty, the officers, accompanied by an agent from BOPE, decided to land and intervene.
According to police reports, four men armed with knives were attacking a group of nine Chinese tourists. Two of the assailants were apprehended by police and two remain at large.
Adonis Lopes de Oliveira, a helicopter pilot, told O Globo news, “We were returning from training from the Rio+20 heliport in Lagoa when we realize that a group of tourists was surrounded by young people. We saw that it was a robbery and, as the beach was empty, we landed in the sand. The team on board left to arrest the assailants.”
Two robbers were arrested, and a camera recovered and returned to the tourists. One of the assailants apprehended is Thiago Nunes Bruno, and the other is less than fifteen years old. The other two would-be robbers escaped.
Security operation simulations have been ongoing ahead of the Rio+20, whose main event starts on June 20th, with 135 world leaders and 50,000 other participants set to descend on Brazil’s second-largest city.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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