Brazil: No evidence Rio police helicopter was shot down

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Emergency workers at the scene of a police helicopter crash over the City of God favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 19 November 2016.Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Firefighters recovered four bodies from the wreckage of the aircraft

Brazilian authorities investigating a police helicopter crash in Rio de Janeiro say they have found no evidence so far it was shot down.

Four officers died when their helicopter crashed over the notorious City of God favela on Saturday.

Gang members were suspected of shooting down the helicopter after gunfire was captured on video footage of the crash.

Rio state security chief Roberto Sa said no bullet holes were found in the helicopter or the officer's bodies.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash which happened during an anti-drug operation. On Sunday Mr Sa stressed: "It's too early for any conclusion."

Several clashes between police and criminal gangs operating in the City of God favela were reported on Saturday.

On Sunday, police backed by an armoured vehicle carried out further operations in the favela, arresting two people and seizing a number of drugs. Brazilian media also reported that seven unidentified bodies were found.

Mr Sa said police were investigating a territorial dispute between members of two favelas in western Rio.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Seven unidentified bodies were found in the City of God on Sunday

Shootouts between police and gangs are common in Rio. In 2009, gang members shot down a police helicopter, killing both pilots.

Violence has been on the rise in the city over the past two years following the failure of a 2010 programme to rid the favelas of drug gangs.

A total of 3,649 murders were reported in 2016 up until the end of September, a rise of almost 18% on the same period last year.