August 22, 2005

Rio police gun down 5 suspects in slum shootout

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Police in Rio de Janeiro
killed five suspected drug traffickers, including a
15-year-old, during a shootout in one of the crime-ridden
city's slums, authorities said on Monday.

Police commander Alvaro Garcia said the five offered
"strong armed resistance" during a police raid on the Andarai
hillside slum on Sunday night, the state security agency said
in a statement.

Arms, including a grenade, and drugs were found on the
suspects, it said.

Gunfights between police and drug gangs that nest in Rio's
teeming slums occur almost daily but the weekend clash was the
highest single toll in recent weeks.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International often
question police tactics in such raids when only one side
suffers losses. They accuse police of excessive violence and
summary executions of unarmed suspects, who are later
registered as criminals offering resistance.

Last year, police killed nearly 1,000 people in Rio state,
while 52 officers died in the line of duty. In March, gunmen
believed to be rogue policemen killed at least 30 innocent
people in a shooting spree in Rio.

Many Brazilians are oblivious to police violence at home
but in contrast, they were outraged when British police last
month shot and killed an innocent Brazilian man in London who
was mistaken for a would-be suicide bomber.

The latest bloodshed in Rio de Janeiro took place as two
Brazilian diplomats traveled to London to join the
investigation into that shooting.