Violent drug raids leave 43 dead as Brazilian police hit back against gangs

At least 43 people have been killed in violent drug raids in Brazil.

Police in the South American nation are cracking down on gangs distributing illegal substances but several operations to bring outlaws to justice have resulted in fatalities, reports the BBC.

In the most recent raid in Complexo da Penha, a group of favelas in north Rio de Janeiro, officers say at least 10 people were killed after cops returned fire in a shoot-out.

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Among those who lost their lives were a drug kingpin and a trafficker, while four others – including a police officer – were injured.

Another five-day assault in São Paulo state, dubbed Operation Shield, saw 14 lose their lives as a number of clashes broke out.

Two of the people killed were police officers, São Paulo state governor Tarcisio de Freitas confirmed yesterday (Tuesday, August 1).

A further 19 suspects have been killed since Friday (July 28) in the northeastern state of Bahia.

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Some 58 people were arrested during the São Paulo raid, which was launched following the death of a special forces police officer on Thursday (July 27) in the coastal town of Guarujá.

During the raid, cops seized a whopping 385kg of narcotics as well as guns, local media reported.

However the operation came under fire, with Brazil's Justice Minister Flavio Dino saying the police response in São Paulo was not proportional to the crime committed.

Meanwhile witnesses to the clashes in Rio de Janeiro recalled hearing gunshots as heavily armed gang members and police came to blows.

The raid began after cops became aware of reports of a meeting between drug kingpins in the city.

The clashes meant schools around Complexo da Penha couldn't open on Wednesday, meaning more than 3,000 school pupils had to stay home, and house visits by the national health service were also suspended,

Talíria Petrone, a member of the Rio state legislature slammed the operation and said there was "no explanation for the state to continue turning life in favelas into a hell like this".

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