Rio po­lice storm favela in dawn oper­a­tion

Daily Trust - - WORLD -

More than 1,000 po­lice, backed by the mil­i­tary and ar­moured ve­hi­cles, oc­cu­pied a vast favela near Rio de Janeiro’s in­ter­na­tional air­port months be­fore the foot­ball World Cup.

A squadron be­long­ing to the feared Spe­cial Po­lice Op­er­a­tions Bat­tal­ion, along with a dozen ar­moured ve­hi­cles, swarmed through the no­to­ri­ous Mare shanty town with­out fac­ing re­sis­tance, while he­li­copters buzzed over­head at dawn.

The slum is just a few kilo­me­tres from the air­port and a po­ten­tial through route for tens of thou­sands of foot­ball fans fly­ing in and out of the city, which will stage seven World Cup matches in­clud­ing the July 13 fi­nal.

Brazil­ian au­thor­i­ties have stepped up ef­forts to quell vi­o­lence in Rio as the foot­ball ex­trav­a­ganza looms closer, car­ry­ing out a huge slum “paci­fi­ca­tion” pro­gramme since 2008 aimed at mak­ing the city - which will also host the 2016 Olympics - safer.

Prior to Sun­day, Po­lice Paci­fi­ca­tion Units (UPPs) had been in­stalled in 174 Rio fave­las home to around 600,000 people.

On Sun­day they took the ini­tia­tive to en­ter Mare, a drug­traf­fick­ing strong­hold and haven for or­gan­ised crime that is con­sid­ered one of the most dan­ger­ous places in the city.

Po­lice had their weapons trained on the rooftops but, apart from a few bars close to the en­trance of Mare that re­mained open, the labyrinth of nar­row streets was empty and dark.

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