4 officers killed in police helicopter crash in Brazil – Charles D’Alberto

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Chopper providing support for operation near City of God favela at time of crash

Four police officers were killed when a military helicopter crashed while supporting an anti-drug operation in Brazil, authorities said Sunday.

The helicopter was flying near the infamous City of God favela in Rio de Janerio amid shooting and confrontations between criminal gangs and police, according to witnesses.

The altercation began after a gang blocked a road and set fire to tires and garbage dumps.

Military police spokesman, Ivan Blaz, said at a news conference that the helicopter had been apparently forced down, but he didn’t elaborate.

“Everything indicates that the helicopter made a forced landing,” he told the G1 news portal.

The air force said it would begin an investigation into the cause of the accident. Shooting down aircraft is rare in the Brazil but a gang managed to down a military chopper in 2009.

Authorities said Sunday they found no bullet holes in the helicopter or in the bodies of the four officers and three suspects have been arrested and various weapons seized. There was no word on the reasons for the arrests.

The favelas of Rio are notorious for extremely high crime rates as the government has struggled to contain gangs and drug trafficking operations. In the recent years, police have successfully improved the crime situation in the slums but according to local media, overall crime has worsening in the country as authorities face unexpected budget shortfalls.

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Posted By Charles D'Alberto

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