Brazilian police occupy dangerous shantytowns

Rio de Janeiro: About 1,200 Brazilian police supported by armoured vehicles provided by the navy Sunday peacefully occupied the Mare Complex, a group of 15 "favelas", or shantytowns, considered to be the most dangerous in Rio de Janeiro.

A group of girls watch how a PM paramilitary police BOPE special unit sniper secures the area as Brazilian soldiers (not framed) conduct a search for weapons in the Favela da Mare slum complex in the northern surburbs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 26, 2014. Pic: AFP

The operation, which had been previously announced and proceeded without gunfire or any other violence, began at 5 am (0800 GMT) when 21 navy armoured cars led the police into the shantytowns, where some 120,000 people live.

The occupation was undertaken gradually and took a little over an hour, although police are scheduled to conduct extensive sweeps in the area over the next few days for drugs and weapons.

Over the past eight days, police arrested 57 people in operations in operations in other favelas, although during the move Sunday morning they encountered no resistance from any of the armed gangs that had been controlling the poor and destitute neighborhoods.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff last Friday signed a decree giving police powers to the army, which will be sent into Rio in the coming days to collaborate in controlling Mare.

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