City council member, driver shot to death in downtown Rio

Police officers work on the crime scene as they stand next to vehicle in which council member Marielle Franco and her driver where both shot to death by two unidentified attackers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, March 14, 2018. An official told The Associated Press that nine shots were fired into the car carrying Marielle Franco and her driver Wednesday night. He says it appears Franco was targeted. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

RIO DE JANEIRO - A city council member and her driver were shot to death by two unidentified attackers on a downtown street Wednesday night in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city where the military was put in charge of police a month ago after a surge in violence.

Rio's Public Security Secretary Richard Nunes said in a statement there will be "full investigation on the assassination" of council member Marielle Franco and her driver.

Two police officials told The Associated Press that two men in a car fired nine shots into the vehicle carrying the 38-year-old Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes. A press officer was injured in the backseat, but survived, the officials said.

Both officials said it appeared Franco was targeted. The officials agreed to reveal details on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Brazil's Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann said in a statement that federal police would help investigate.

On Feb.16, Brazil's federal government put the military in charge of Rio's local police amid a spike in violence. So far there are no indications of improvement in security in the city.

Franco was an expert on police violence and on Saturday accused officers of being overly aggressive in searching residents of gang-controlled shantytowns.

A member of a leftist party, Franco was known for her social work in slums and she received the fifth most votes among council members elected in 2016. She was in her first term in office. Her party called for a match Friday to protest violence in Rio.

Franco's last post on Twitter called attention to police violence.

"Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?" she wrote.

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