RIO DE JANEIRO, NNC - Police and residents of the Rocinha slum area in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have clashed on Saturday (03/24). The armed clash has caused at least seven deaths and several others injured.
The armed clash took place in the second month after the Brazilian army took over security responsibilities in the city.
Police said the incident started when a police patrol was attacked, although family members of those killed in the clash denied a number of things that happened in the incident, a local media reported.
Police said they entered Rocinha to search for a suspected murderer of a police officer in the slum area, locally known as favela, on Sunday morning (03/25). During the search, police found various armed weapons following the incident, including a pair of grenades.
Earlier in mid-February 2018, Brazil's central government ordered the Brazilian Army to take over the leadership of the security forces in Rio de Janeiro in an effort to curb the violence, which was driven by narcotics gangs.
Rio de Janeiro has seen a signficant rise in crime in recent years. Murder rate in the city increased eight percent in 2017 from the year before, and 26 percent in 2015. Armed clashes occur daily in the impoverished Rio area, and the violence is spreading to the more prosperous Rio neighborhoods.
Drug trafficking in Rocinha is controlled by the Red Command, the most powerful drug gang in Rio.
The taking over of security in Rio de Janeiro by the Brazilian Army had been rejected by several politicians and public figures. Last week, Marielle Franco, a prominent member of the Rio city council, was assassinated in what many alleged as a political assassination, after he strongly condemned police violence in Rio, many of which were said to be exacerbated by the army's security takeover.