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Missing in Rio on the rise; Brazil police accused

Monday - 10/7/2013, 2:06pm  ET

Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- An Associated Press analysis of police statistics shows that the number of missing person cases in Rio de Janeiro and its impoverished outskirts has shot up 33 percent since 2007, a year before a police security push into the city's slums.

It's not clear who's behind the increase, but heavy-handed police tactics raise suspicions among those living in slums that authorities are involved.

Watchdog groups in Brazil say it's reasonable to think police are disappearing people as they struggle to tame slums. However, security experts blame drug gangs for hiding the bodies of rival traffickers they've killed.

Police declined numerous requests for an official comment. One spokeswoman simply said "we're not responsible for cases of disappearances." She spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department policy.

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