Rio police gun down five suspects in shootout

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Police in Rio de Janeiro killed five suspected drug traffickers, including a 15-year-old, during a shootout in one of the crime-ridden city's slums, authorities said.

Police commander Alvaro Garcia said the five offered "strong armed resistance" during a police raid on the Andarai hillside slum on Sunday night, the state security agency said in a statement.

Arms, including a grenade, and drugs were found on the suspects, it said.

Gunfights between police and drug gangs that nest in Rio's teeming slums occur almost daily but the weekend clash was the highest single toll in recent weeks.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International often question police tactics in such raids when only one side suffers losses. They accuse police of excessive violence and summary executions of unarmed suspects, who are later registered as criminals offering resistance.

Last year, police killed nearly 1000 people in Rio state, while 52 officers died in the line of duty. In March, gunmen believed to be rogue policemen killed at least 30 innocent people in a shooting spree in Rio.

Many Brazilians are oblivious to police violence at home but in contrast, they were outraged when British police last month shot and killed an innocent Brazilian man in London who was mistaken for a would-be suicide bomber.

The latest bloodshed in Rio de Janeiro took place as two Brazilian diplomats travelled to London to join the investigation into that shooting.

- REUTERS

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