At least ten people were killed and a police officer injured on Friday, May 15, as police launched an anti-gang operation in Rio de Janeiro's Complexo do Alemao favela. Clashes reportedly broke out as police came under rifle fire and grenade attacks whilst conducting a search and arrest operation for a high-profile gang leader on Friday morning (local time) in the favela and spread over several streets. The target of the operation was reportedly among those killed in the raid, although local residents gave a higher death toll and claimed that police had refused to remove some bodies from the area.
The operation prompted protests from the local community later on Friday, with residents bringing the bodies of several of those killed into the streets and accusing police of putting the community at risk from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by continuing large scale operations in the crowded favelas. There have been increasing concerns in recent weeks that COVID-19 cases in Rio de Janeiro's favelas have been significantly underreported, with communities in the deprived areas seen as being particularly vulnerable to outbreaks due to social distancing difficulties and limited government support.
Further such security operations in Complexo do Alemao remain possible over the near term.
Individuals in Brazil are advised to remain vigilant at all times, report any suspicious activity to relevant authorities, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities due to high crime rates in Rio de Janeiro - and throughout Brazil more generally.
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