Rio police storm favela in dawn operation
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.