Brazil Forces Fight Rio Gangs


Police in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro have intensified a crackdown on drug gangs in the city's sprawling shantytowns, that has resulted in the death of at least 45 people and the detention of 192 others since the operation began last week.

Amid intermittent gunfire, security forces on Saturday were preparing to enter Alemao, another major shantytown or ""favela"" in the city's north, a day after troops entered Vila Cruzeiro, a neighbouring slum.

Soldiers in camouflage, black-clad police from elite units and regular police held their ground at the entrances to Alemao, a grouping of a dozen slums that climb up small slopes where more than 85,000 people live, according to the Brazilian government.

Al Jazeera's Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from Rio de Janeiro, said that it will not be possible to bring tanks into the Alemao favela.

""This complex sits on hills, so the security forces will have to go in and engage in hand-to-hand combat,"" he said.

The standoff comes after a week of intense and widespread violence in the city, during which dozens of motorists were robbed and more than 100 cars and buses were set ablaze.

Authorities say the gangs are protesting against a two-year-old police campaign that has pushed the criminals out of slums where they have long ruled with impunity.