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Rio remains dangerous - despite military operations against criminal gangs

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Rio remains dangerous - despite military operations against criminal gangs

Rio remains dangerous - despite military operations against criminal gangs
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Thousands of soldiers and police officers entered a complex of favelas in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday in the largest show of force by the military since it took control of security in Brazil’s second-largest city last month.

On Monday a TV helicopter captured images of a shootout in a favela, amid rising gang violence.

Footage aired live by Globo TV showed several men taking cover behind a building in a marginalized area of Praca Seca, while one fired an assault weapon around a wall.

The men then piled into cars, some sitting in their trunks with the hatchbacks open, and sped away.

Others fleeing on foot pointed their weapons at drivers so they would stop on a major thoroughfare and allow the caravan to pass.

It was not clear who the men were or whom they were firing at. But for several months, drug traffickers and militias - armed groups made up of current and former police officers - have been fighting for control in Praca Seca, said Ivan Blaz, a military police spokesman.

The shocking images were a window into the daily violence experienced by residents of Rio's marginalized areas.

Nearly two years after the city cracked down on armed groups ahead of the 2016 Olympics, security has deteriorated dramatically. Residents told Globo TV that they heard gunfire for hours Monday morning in Praca Seca before the footage was shot.

Such shootouts are common, as are the deaths of innocent bystanders felled by stray bullets.

Despite the military having been in charge of security in Rio since last month there are no indications things have improved.