Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – A cable car service which runs to Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf Mountain, one of Brazil’s most famous tourist attractions, was suspended Friday after a nearby shootout that wounded a policeman.
“The Sugarloaf cable car service is temporarily suspended due to a police operation,” the firm that runs the service told AFP.
Military police in Rio confirmed in a statement that an operation began Friday morning in favelas in the hilly areas of Leme district, a popular tourist area in the city’s south, where a number of shootings have occurred in recent days near the famed Copacabana beach.
The police operations, which are becoming increasingly frequent in Rio, are aimed at destroying the grip of drug gangs.
The other side of the hills looks out on the Urca district, where the Sugarloaf cable car begins its 396 meter (yard) climb to the top, offering a stunning panoramic of the “Marvelous City.”
“At around 1:00pm (1600 GMT), police came across a group of armed men and a shootout ensued in the forest. A policeman was lightly wounded by grenade shrapnel,” police said, adding that an operation was ongoing.
By late afternoon, a helicopter was flying over the area and the police were searching on jet skis for the suspects at sea, an AFP photographer said.
Nearly two years after hosting the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro is experiencing a surge in violence.
At the end of February, President Michel Temer entrusted the army with the city’s security, though the policy has not resulted in any real reduction in insecurity.