Police crackdown in Rio slums after killing

Crack military police officers have tightened security at a Rio favela following a shootout with suspected drug traffickers that left a policewoman dead, authorities said Wednesday.

Fabiana de Souza, 30, died late Monday when gunmen opened fire on a Police Pacification Unit (UPP) post in Nova Brasilia, one of 11 favelas making up the Complexo do Alemao cluster of slums north of the city.

It was the first shooting death of a police officer in Rio's 144 pacified slums.

The Alemao complex, a favela community of 70,000, has been pacified since November 2010, when police wrested control from drug gangs in a large-scale joint operation with the army.

"Security has been tightened in several points," a military police spokesman told AFP, adding that the BOPE elite police squad "has been conducting various operations across the city to hunt down those suspected of involvement in (Monday's) attack."

Two suspects in the 40-minute firefight were arrested in Nova Brasilia on Tuesday, a police statement said.

Rio state Governor Sergio Cabral condemned the "cowardly assassination" of de Souza and vowed that the pacification policy will "not be rolled back but will instead be expanded."

Some 19 months after Complexo do Alemao was captured, army troops withdrew in early July and were replaced first by military police personnel and later by UPP officers.

In 2008, Rio authorities launched the pacification drive to improve security ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics and currently 25 UPPs fielding 5,550 officers control 144 Rio favelas.

Women make up 11 percent of personnel in the UPPs, compared with five percent in other police forces.

More than 1.5 million people, a third of Rio's population, live in 750 slums scattered on hillsides across the city.


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