Rio de Janeiro councillor shot dead in apparent targeted killing

A police officer works on the crime scene where the council member Marielle Franco and her driver where both shot to death by two unidentified attackers in Rio de Janeiro Brazil Wednesday

One of Brazil's most popular human rights advocates has been shot dead in Rio de Janeiro in what appears to have been a targeted killing.

Franco says her political life began when she had just signed up for university on a special program for youths from favelas when her friend, also a student, was hit by a stray bullet.

As Franco was leaving the site, a auto pulled up to the side of her own vehicle and fired nine shots into it. Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were killed on the spot.

Franco was shot several times as bullets sprayed her auto as it drove through Rio de Janeiro's unsafe north side.

In the attack in the Rio neighbourhood of Estacio de Sa, Franco's driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, also was killed and her press officer, Fernanda Chaves, was injured.

People look on as Rio's Civil Police officers transport Brazilian politician Marielle Franco's vehicle, where she was found shot dead in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on March 15, 2018. Last week, she spoke out after the police shot two youngsters in Acari, a neighborhood in the northern part of Rio.

Ms Franco, who was raised and lived in the Mare complex of slums, long one of Rio's more risky areas, received over 46,500 votes in the 2016 election. He delayed a previously-scheduled event at the presidential palace to hold a cabinet meeting on Rio's security, and said the federal police willing to help with the investigations. That was a subtle way of saying the government did not think the local police force, which would usually be exclusively responsible for investigating a killing, is up to the task. A member of a small leftist group, she was believed to be contemplating running for election to Brazil's Congress.

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"She broke barriers that many black women in the periphery thought were intractable", said Ilona Szabó, executive director of Igarapé Institute, which studies public safety policies.

One of her last posts on Twitter highlighted the shooting death of a young man, describing this as "another homicide...that could be credited to the police". She was known as an outspoken critic of police officers accused of using aggression in the city's favelas, or slums, where she served as a longtime social worker amid gang violence.

On Feb.16, Brazil's federal government put the military in charge of Rio's local police amid a spike in violence.

"Another killing of a young man that could be chalked up to the police", she tweeted. On Tuesday, United Nations human rights officials issued a statement expressing "profound concern" about the intervention, which they warned could lead to human rights violations.

Rio de Janeiro experienced a surge in violence and reached a breaking point during the famed Carnival last month.

Thousands gather during a protest against the death of councillor Marielle Franco.

Franco's background in the huge Mare favela, one of the most violent places in Rio, informed her approach.

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