Brazil's forces seize control of Rio slum
Army soldiers, police and journalists take their positions during an operation by the authorities at Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro November 27, 2010. Police in Rio de Janeiro gave drug traffickers holed up in the hillside slum an ultimatum on Saturday to turn themselves in and help put an end to a wave of urban violence that has killed at least 46 people. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

Brazil's forces have seized control of Alemao favela complex in northern Rio de Janeiro on Sunday. Army tanks have entered the slum which is believed to be a hideout for more than 500 members of violent drug gangs. Rio's slums, for the past few years, have been controlled by the gangs in possession of with heavy weapons and used for drug trafficking.

There are reports of both sides exchanging fire using automatic weapons. Several of the gang members are also suspected to have fled the place. But police and the army maintained that all entry and exit points to the slum have been sealed.

Sunday's operations are part of week-long crackdown of the government forces on drug traffickers. Officials in Brazil stated that it was part of their efforts to clean up the city and boost security ahead of the 2014 football World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games to be hosted in the country. More than 2000 army men including airborne troops, marines and elite police are being backed by armored cars and helicopters in the operations.

Over one-third of the country population lives in close to 1000 slums. The Alemao slum is home to more than 400,000 people and is placed on steep hillside terrain. Rio's authorities have notified the traffickers to surrender by Friday; sources say that not more than 30 gang members gave in. However, officials claimed that large quantities of arms and drugs were recovered from the slum. The crackdown has resulted in the deaths of at least 45 people.