Brazilian army launch crackdown on Rio slums

Brazilian army launch crackdown on Rio slums

Brazilian army launch crackdown on Rio slums

Rio state authorities said there were 10,000 cases of cargo theft past year.

The troops, armed with camouflaged personnel carriers, were part of 8,500 deployed to the city last month.

All those entering and leaving the favela were subjected to identity checks and searches, with men required to lift their shirts. "With the soldiers, people here feel safer", said Luiza, a resident of Lins, who like most others was too afraid to be fully identified.

"There's an atmosphere of tension and fear", said Vanuza Barroso da Silva, 23, who was leaving for her job at a supermarket. "People can hardly get to work".

"They treat us as if we're trash", her father Roberto, 46, said after going through the search.

The targeted favelas were Lins, Camarista Meier, Morros de Sao Joao, Engenho and Covanca.

"The armed forces are responsible for the perimeters in some of these regions and based at strategic points", the state security service said.

'Some roads are blocked and the airspace is restricted to civilian flights over the sectors where the armed forces are operating'.

Mounting violence in Rio has led authorities to acknowledge in recent weeks that much of the city is out of their control.

The crackdown comes after a steep rise in crime in the city.

In the first half of this year, there were more than 3,450 homicides, according to officials.

Favela residents fear that yesterday's show of force will be just one more in a long series of dramatic, but ultimately futile raids in neighbourhoods ravaged by poverty, government neglect and deeply rooted gangs.

Since the beginning of the year 93 police officers have been killed in Rio state, while units complain of not having enough funds for fuel or even toilet paper. "In either case it's a minority that has weapons", she said.

Barroso da Silva scoffed at the Rio authorities' vows of tough action on insecurity. "The goal, as always, is the one we said before, to block organized crime, to create a surprise effect".

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