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Rio family buries girl killed by stray bullet; police blamed

AP  |  Rio De Janeiro 

An eight-year-old girl, who was killed by a stray bullet in a Rio de Janeiro shantytown, was buried on Sunday amid allegations that she was hit by police fire.

Several hundred people attended the funeral of gatha Sales Flix, who died on Friday after she was shot in the back while riding in a van in the Complexo do Alemao slum.

Some mourners carried a large banner that said "Stop killing us", a reference to growing concern about the increasing use of lethal force by Brazilian police. Authorities defend their hardline tactics, saying they have contributed to a reduction in violent crime.

The death of the girl shocked many Brazilians, even though they are accustomed to high levels of violence in their society.

Justice Minister Srgio Moro said the government has been working hard to reduce killings and "prevent such events from recurring". Gilmar Mendes, a judge on Brazil's top court, said on Twitter that killings by police in the slums are "alarming" and he questioned security policies in Rio de Janeiro.

Residents and Flix's family blame local police for her death, saying they only heard a single shot when she was hit.

Police officers, however, say they were attacked from various directions and were responding to gunfire. They have not said whether a police bullet killed Flix.

An investigation is underway. State officials said on Sunday the girl's parents, as well as the van driver and other witnesses, have testified, while police officers will testify on Monday.

There are no reports of other casualties in the incident.

Separately, a police officer died in a hospital on Sunday after he was injured in an operation in the Complexo de Alemao slum last week, the G1 website reported. It cited local health officials.

Gov. Wilson Witzel of Rio de Janeiro state campaigned for office on promises to fight drug trafficking and corruption. In early January, days after taking office, he said police officers had been authorised to shoot and kill criminals armed with rifles.

Helicopters manned by police snipers also frequently fly over slums.

Police killed 1,075 people in the first seven months of this year in Rio state, which has a population of 1.72 crore people, official figures show.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, September 23 2019. 05:25 IST