Wave of roadblock robberies terrorizes Rio residents, prompts changes in police command

TALES AZZONI (Associated Press) | October 7, 2010
SAO PAULO — Dozens of armed drug gang members have been setting up roadblocks and robbing drivers en masse in recent days in the Rio de Janeiro area, prompting the firing of 19 police battalion leaders in the city that will host the 2016 Olympics.

Residents were yanked from their cars in the middle of the streets in about 10 such robberies in the past week, including three since Tuesday. Gunmen made off with vehicles and took some victims hostage as they battled police with weapons and grenades.

No serious injuries have been linked to the robberies so far, although Globo TV’s website said Thursday that a 13-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire of a gunbattle during a police operation to recover a stolen vehicle in a shantytown. It was not known if he was killed by police or gang members.

It was not clear how many arrests were made in the roadblock robberies, or whether a single group was responsible.

Article continues at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-lt-brazil-rio-violence,0,1537718.story

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