By Ben Tavener, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – At least two people were killed after officers from Rio’s 27th Military Police Battalion launched an operation in a number of communities around Santa Cruz, in the city’s Zona Oeste (West Zone) aimed at avoiding further conflict between rival armed drug trafficker gangs.
Police were involved in exchanges of gunfire as they focused their efforts on the Antares and Rola favelas, with shooting being reported from early Sunday afternoon.
At least three suspects were shot and taken to hospital in Campo Grande, and police later confirmed two of them had died.
Others sustained injuries in the operation, including a 16-year-old teenager on a stolen motorbike who was shot after firing at police; he has already been discharged from hospital to give evidence, police said.
The operation comes after traffickers reportedly took over parts of the region’s favelas, coming into direct conflict with rival criminal gangs.
The surrounding communities are said to be dominated by the same criminal gang that controlled drugs trafficking in the Complexo Alemão and Penha favelas before being flushed out of their home territory by police operations.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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Correction: September 26, 2011
This article was first published earlier today and implied UPP involvement, but as a community reader clarified there is no UPP unit linked to Rio’s 27th Military Police Battalion.