Residents of the Complexo do Alemao favela protest during a police raid in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Violence mars anti-austerity protests in Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo Photo by Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

A deadly raid conducted by police in Rio de Janeiro resulted in the death of at least 18 people. The latest operation by the combined tactical teams of Rio de Janeiro’s civil and military police swooped down on the impoverished community of Complexo do Alemao on Thursday in an operation to take down a criminal organization involved in numerous theft and bank robberies as well as home invasions.

According to Al Jazeera, the favela raid claimed the lives of a law enforcement officer and a female civilian living in the area, while 16 of the casualties were said to be members of the group. A spokesperson for the police said the operation’s goal was to locate and arrest the gang members who were reportedly planning an attack on rival slum areas.

The bloody encounter was made even more difficult due to some targets wearing similar tactical uniforms that confused the police during the early hour raid. Some 400 armed officers were called to bring hellfire on the favela along with air support from four aircrafts and 10 armored vehicles. The operation lasted the whole day leaving thousands of scared and angry residents trapped in their homes.

While locals made attempts to help carry the injured into vehicles, residents were prohibited to help the victims, Gilberto Santiago Lopes from the Anacrim Human Rights Commission said. He added that the police clearly had no intentions of arresting the gang members and seemed to be determined to kill them instead. “So if they're injured, they think they don't deserve help", he told the media.

One resident said she saw a man arrested for trying to help injured victims.

Such deadly raids are not uncommon in favelas around Rio de Janeiro which have prompted criticism and concern from both locals and human rights groups for many years. Last year, over two dozen individuals were killed in a previous raid in the Jacarezinho favela. Rio state Governor Claudio Castro backed up the operation despite the growing ire and criticism of locals who describe these raids as massacres. “I will continue to fight crime with all my strength. We will not back down from the mission of guaranteeing peace and security to the people of our state,” he said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to defend such tactics by the police amid protests from human rights groups labeling Sao Paolo as a genocide state after the bloodbath in May last year.

Residents of the Complexo do Alemao favela protest during a police raid in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Residents of the Complexo do Alemao favela protest during a police raid in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 21, 2022. - At least four people died this Thursday during a new police raid against organized crime in a favela in Rio de Janeiro, police and local media reported. Photo by Mauro Pimentel/AFP via Getty Images

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