(SKY NEWS) – At least 14 people have been killed after Brazil’s military swooped on drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro.
Soldiers and armed police officers were involved in the raids in two impoverished favelas and a suburb of the city on Monday.
The military command in charge of security in Rio – Brazil’s second biggest city – said eight people died “and there could be more”.
Local media reported six suspected armed gang members were also killed after a car chase in the suburb of Niteroi.
The six people were shot dead by police after a rush-hour car chase that caused traffic chaos near one of Rio’s main bridges, according to reports.
More than 4,000 soldiers, backed by armoured vehicles and aircraft, entered the favela complexes of Alemao and Mare, which are largely run by heavily-armed drug traffickers.
Troops removed roadblocks erected by drug gangs and followed up on tip-offs against suspected traffickers, the military said in a statement.
Brazil’s military took over all security in Rio six months ago in the face of escalating violent crime and the local police’s inability to combat the well-armed drug gangs.
The security situation in Rio has been deteriorating since the city hosted the 2016 Olympic games, prompting accusations that the government has failed to distribute potential benefits of the event to the city’s poorer communities.
Last week US defence secretary Jim Mattis said he heard gunfire while he was staying at a hotel near Rio’s Copacabana beach.
There were reports of a pre-dawn gunfight among drug gangs near the hotel but there was no suggestion that Mr Mattis was in danger.