(TELESUR) – A 5-year-old girl Brazilian girl died after been shot in the leg by a stray bullet while she was walking to school with her mother, in the populous Realengo district, west of Rio de Janeiro, local television media reported.
Her name was Ketellen Umbelino de Oliveira and after been injured was rushed to the Albert Schweitzer Municipal Hospital, in a critical satate but did not survive. Investigators believe she was caught in the crossfire of one of the gun battles waged routinely in the city by drug trafficking gangs vying for control of neighborhoods.
According to preliminary information from the Military Police (PM), several shots were fired from a car. An unidentified man was also struck and died at the scene.
The killing comes as police as the Carioca city has intensified operations against drug gangs, a crackdown that has left hundreds of people dead and scrambled turf wars among heavily armed gangs. The television show El Café de la Mañana, station Band News, indicated that, with this case of the girl, the number of victims of bullets lost in 2019 amounts to 145, 35 of whom died.
Brazil recently mourned the death of another girl, Agatha Felix, who on September 20th was also killed during a police operation in a favela too. According to Fogo Cruzado, an organization that monitors violence in the city, so far this year, at least 21 children have been struck by stray bullets in Rio de Janeiro. Eleven of them were hit during police operations.
The little girl returned home, with her mother, in a collective transport vehicle, when a projectile crossed the van and embedded itself in her body from behind. Without finishing the investigation, the Military Police tried to avoid any responsibility and argued that there is no hint of participation of any agent in the crime. According to that corporation, its members were attacked by drug traffickers and responded with shots.
Contrary to such a version, the relatives expressed themselves, who claimed that the bullet that struck Ágatha came from the police, although they also commented on a fight in a bar. The Rio Public Security Institute indicates that the police have never killed as much as this year. From January to August, 1,249 cases were registered. An average of five deaths per day.