Several Buses Torched in Rio; Police See Gang Retaliation
Several public buses were torched in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday in what Brazilian military police said was likely gang retaliation for a large anti-drug operation.
Images on Globo News showed buses burning alongside a highway in the northern part of the city. Traffic was snarled for a few hours and black smoke filled the air.
Local media reported that eight buses and two cargo trucks were set ablaze, though those numbers could not be independently confirmed. There were no immediate reports of injuries. The burning vehicles appeared empty.
Calls and emails to military police in Rio were not immediately returned.
Military police spokesman Maj. Ivan Blaz told Globo that a group of ski-masked bandits were suspected of igniting the buses Tuesday, possibly in retaliation for a police operation.
On Twitter, Rio’s military police posted updates and photos from the operation, which began early Tuesday. By the afternoon, 26 men had been arrested and 17 automatic rifles had been recovered, according to police.
Rio has frequent bursts of violence. Heavily armed gangs run drug businesses from many of the hundreds of slums in the city. They frequently have shootouts with rival gangs over territory and with military police during operations.
Several other buses were torched during a protest over pension reform on Friday.