At least 21 people were killed Tuesday in a bloody new police operation in Rio de Janeiro, a year after the deadliest raid in the city’s history, which had already killed 28 people.

At midday, the provisional toll of the police amounted to 11 dead, but it practically doubled in a few hours, many corpses having been transported in the afternoon to a nearby hospital. Rio state health authorities confirmed the presence of 20 bodies at the Getulio Vargas hospital, which also received seven wounded.

An operation “planned for weeks”

This assessment does not take into account the death of a resident of the favela of Vila Cruzeiro hit by a stray bullet that killed her instantly, according to the police, who assure that at least 11 victims were “suspects”.

The military police, who frequently carry out this kind of morning operations in the favelas of Rio against drug traffickers, claim to have been greeted by gunfire as they began an operation intended to “locate and capture hidden criminals” in Vila Cruzeiro.

“It was an operation planned for weeks, but we identified movements of criminals during the night and we decided to intervene”, explained Colonel Luiz Henrique Marinho Pires, who specified that the suspects were preparing to flee to another favela.

He also revealed that a helicopter used by the police during the operation had been hit by several bullets. Thirteen assault rifles, four pistols, twenty motorcycles and ten cars were seized during the operation, but the police did not report any arrests.

The most intense shooting took place at dawn in the upper part of the favela, on top of a hill where the rainforest is blocked off with a dirt road. Some suspects were reportedly shot in the forest, which would explain that a large number of bodies were found later in the day.

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