Brazil police raids: Dozens of people killed amid crackdown on gangs and drug traffickers

Dozens of people have been killed in clashes in Brazil as police carry out raids to crack down on criminal gangs and drug traffickers.

At least 44 people have reportedly died in total after violent scenes in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo state and Bahia state.

In Rio, police said nine people lost their lives during a raid where officers were attacked by armed men in the Penha slums complex.

Among those killed were “Fiel” and “Du Leme”, two alleged gang leaders in the impoverished Juramento and Chatuba favelas.

Officers said they seized seven rifles, ammunition and grenades from the suspects.

Police spokesperson Colonel Marco Andrade said: “Data from the intelligence sector indicated that a meeting was taking place between leaders of the criminal faction in the region.”

Meanwhile, at least 16 people died in clashes between officers and suspects in the Brazilian coastal cities of Guaruja and Santos in Sao Paulo state.

The clashes were sparked last Friday when a police officer, Patrick Bastos Reis, was shot dead while on patrol the day before in Guaruja.

At least 58 people have been arrested during five days of Operation Shield.

Sao Paulo Governor Tarcisio de Freitas said police were targeting widespread organized crime in the region.

But local authorities and human rights groups have said they suspect police used excessive force in the raids.