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    Brazil's armed forces patrol a favela in Rio de Janeiro. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 June 2018

Local residents described scenes of security forces firing high-powered rifles from helicopters at the Mare Favela Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Marcos Vinicius da Silva, a 14-year-old student, died Wednesday after being shot in the stomach the day before during a civil police operation, supported by Brazilian military forces, in the Mare Favela Complex. The youngster, donned in his community school uniform, was walking to class when the shooting erupted around nine o'clock in the morning local time.

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Brazilian Rights Activist Marielle Franco Assassinated in Rio

He was treated at Getulio Vargas Hospital where his spleen was removed but he did not withstand the injury. At least six other people were killed during the police and military operation on Wednesday, according to Agencia Brasil.

Local residents described scenes of security forces firing high-powered rifles from helicopters, causing panic throughout the community. They also said heavy gunfire erupted early Thursday morning.

“It's unacceptable and repugnant to see the community, full of innocent people that have nothing to do with daily violence in Rio, being fired upon from a helicopter,” said Luke Downdney, director of the non-government organization Struggle for Peace.

“I've just witnessed numerous frightened mothers running to the school. Can you imagine your children in a school, nursery, with a rifle being fired down from a helicopter over them?...How can this happen in a community in Rio de Janeiro on this day?”

The civil police force informed that the operation is to fulfill 23 arrest warrants of suspects alleged to have participated in the death of the chief of operations of the Anti-Drug Police Station (DCOD), who was killed last week during a police operation in the Acari Favela.

Cesar Benjamin, the Municipal Secretary of Education in Rio de Janeiro, lamented Vinicius da Silva's murder. “I just got home at 22:30, and received the tragic news that our student who was shot in the Mare Complex died. He was shot while on his way to school accompanied by his mother. I feel the pain of his family,” he wrote.

Marielle Franco, the Black activist and city councilwoman who was assassinated on March 15, described herself, in part, as “a child of Mare” (favela) as she was raised in the large complex of poor communities.

Home to some 140,000 residents, soldiers previously occupied the community between 2014 and 2015, as part of the Brazilian government's military intervention in the lead up to and after the Rio World Cup.


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