Brazil will deploy the military in slums near Rio’s international airport to back up police as the city braces for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of tourists for the World Cup, which starts on June 12.
However, Justice Minister Eduard Cardozo did not give troop numbers or the start date for the operation.
“The federal government supports the Rio government in this battle with armed crime,” he said.
“We are not thinking about (quelling violence) for the World Cup so much as about the citizens of Rio,” said Rio state’s secretary for security affairs Jose Mariano Beltrame.
“We are going to show who is stronger, and show that the state of Rio is stronger and the Brazilian state is stronger,” he said.
The move follows a spate of attacks on Rio police in slum areas despite an intensive, years long effort to “pacify” the densely packed neighbourhoods.
Cardozo said the focus of the troop deployment would be in the sprawling Mare favela near the Galeao international airport.
The favela, home to 100,000 people, is a haven for gang warfare and drug dealing.
“There are weapons and drugs, stolen cars and motor bikes and criminals who take refuge there as if it were their territory,” Rio Governor Sergio Cabral said.
Cardozo said troops would “stay as long as necessary” until a 1500-strong Police Pacification Unit could be established in Mare.
An advance force of 120 special police already has moved into the area, the officials said.
Cabral vowed that authorities would not shrink from the task of “pacifying” violent shanty towns.
Since 2008, more than 9000 police officers have been deployed in 38 units across 174 favelas in an attempt to “pacify” areas.
Michel Misse, expert on urban violence at Rio’s Federal University, told AFP that bringing in the army “does not constitute a failure by local police.
“It is … a symbolic aspect to show the force of the state against criminals,” Misse said.