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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) – A shootout between two drug gangs and police in a hillside shantytown on this city’s poor north side left seven people dead, officials said Tuesday.

The battle on Monday in the working class Rocha Miranda district was the result of war between rival drug gangs, said Rio de Janeiro state police officer Maj. Luiz, who would not give his full name.

The shooting began when about 20 members of the Third Command drug gang tried to wrest control of the slum from the rival Red Command drug gang, Luiz said. Police quickly reached the scene, battling with both groups.

“There was a lot of noise it was like New Years with all the fireworks,” said a 21-year-old resident who would only identify himself as Jorge. “We feel bad, we don’t feel safe here – we can’t even play soccer.”

Other residents denied seeing or hearing anything. No one admitted to knowing any of the victims. All of those killed were members of the Third Command, police said.

Rio’s slums are largely lawless zones ruled by heavily armed drug gangs, and police occupations are often fiercely resisted.

In response to the killings, Gov. Anthony Garotinho ordered police to take positions in 23 more of Rio’s most violent slums, bringing the total number occupied by police to 40.

At the Faz Quem Quer slum, the scene of the shootout, heavily armed police were stationed at the several entrance roads.

Along the concrete walls that lead up the slum’s rocky hillside the spray painted letters “T.C.” for Third Command, were crossed out in red paint with the letters “C.V.” for Commando Vermelho, or Red Command, scrawled hastily alongside.

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