The Brazilian army has backed police moving into two of Rio de Janiero’s most dangerous favelas to retake control and end the rule of drugs lords.
Some 1300 police officers with 170 marines in support with 13 armoured personnel carriers went in at dawn on Sunday, having surrounded the two suburbs in the preceding days, trapping their 75,000 inhabitants inside. They are located some 15 kilometres from the city centre.
Few residents were to be seen on the streets during the operation, which consisted of breaking down barricades and sweeping homes street by street looking for drugs and weapons, and stopping and searching suspects.
Helicopters flew overhead as the army attempted to ensure no-one could escape the search. The operation is the latest in a series designed to make Brazil’s major cities safe ahead of the tourist boom expected for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
At least five people have been killed in the operation so far.