Rio body count rises

Fighting involving police, drug traffickers and rival gangs leaves 21 dead.

    Rio's governor has asked President Lula for military troops to help control soaring crime in the city [EPA]

    A large quantity of cocaine was found in the vehicle, according to police.

    The fighting began at sunrise on Tuesday when a gang entered the shanty town in an alleged attempt to steal the drug market from a rival gang.


    Violence escalated when police arrived and the shooting continued until late in the morning.


    Police exchanged fire with the gang members who climbed onto surrounding rooftops. Panic spread throughout the neighbourhood and a number of people were wounded by stray bullets.


    The violence prompted police to close one of Rio's main tunnels to traffic and four funerals at a nearby cemetery were cancelled.


    Military intervention 


    Rio Body Count

    710 Dead
    391 Injured

    Figures from February 1, 2007

    The deadly fighting came after Sergio Cabral, Rio's state governor, asked Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the president of Brazil, at the beginning of the month to send military troops to help curb the soaring crime in the city.


    In Brazil, local police are usually expected to ensure the security of each individual state.


    Lula promised to send in the troops, but prolonged negotiations with the armed forces had postponed the move.


    Rio Body Count, a website that uses media reports to tally the number of dead and injured in violence in the city, said 710 people had died there since the beginning of February.


    The city's security secretariat meanwhile put the number of dead since the beginning of the year at around a thousand.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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