A third Brazilian soldier has died of wounds he sustained in a shootout with suspected drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro’s slums, the army said.
At least five civilians and two other soldiers have died since the army launched coordinated raids in violent neighborhoods in the north of the city Monday.
A little over six months ago, President Michel Temer announced emergency measures authorizing the army to take command of police forces in Rio de Janeiro state, where warring drug gangs and militias have triggered a sharp rise in violence.
The joint army and police operations involved more than 4,000 soldiers and police, as well as armored vehicles and aircraft.
Since the operation began, the rate of murders and police shootings has risen, sparking criticism of the use of military strategy as well as a lack of transparency and unclear goals.
Human rights groups have criticized the operation, saying it’s disproportionately impacting people, particularly blacks, in poor neighborhoods.
Also Wednesday, residents of one of the slums protested rough-handed tactics by the military as members of the Rio’s Public Defender’s office talked to the residents about human rights violations by soldiers.
“In addition to the rights frequently violated, like entering homes [without a warrant], mistreatment and torture, there is an even more grave situation,” said Pedro Strozenberg from Rio’s Public Defender’s Office. “It’s [allegations of] homicides, deaths and bodies hidden in the forest.”
An email sent to the military command by the Associated Press asking for comment was not immediately answered.