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Rio protesters demand justice after 'eight-year-old shot by police'

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Protests have erupted in Brazil after a girl was fatally struck by a stray bullet.

Hundreds of residents have marched through the streets of Rio de Janeiro demanding an end to police violence after an eight-year-old girl was allegedly shot dead by police.

Ágatha Vitória Sales Félix was with her grandmother in a public minibus when she was shot in the back by a stray bullet on Friday night.

Ágatha Vitória Sales Félix
Ágatha Vitória Sales Félix was eight years old.
Twitter

She was travelling through Alemão, one of the city’s largest favelas.

The young girl later died in hospital.

Authorities confirmed her death and an investigation is underway.

Relatives mourn during the funeral of eight-year-old Agatha Sales Felix, who was killed by a stray bullet during a police operation in Rio de Janeiro.
Relatives mourn during the funeral of eight-year-old Agatha Sales Felix, who was killed by a stray bullet during a police operation in Rio de Janeiro.
Getty

Ágatha is the fifth child to be killed as a result of violence blamed on the police this year.

In a statement, police said officers had responded to gunfire and attacks from criminals.

But Ágatha’s family disputes the version of events, blaming local police for her death.

They say officers had targeted a motorcyclist that was passing nearby when Ágatha was hit and there was no gunfight at the time.

The tragedy has sparked large protests in the capital city.

Hundreds of people protested on Saturday in the favela where Agatha was killed.

Many held signs reading: "enough deaths", "favela lives matter", and "more schools, less shootings".

Another march was held on Sunday with demonstrators walking through the rain chanting “We demand justice for Ágatha” towards a nearby cemetery for her funeral.

The city’s hardline governor, Wilson Witzel, has been accused of presiding over an “extermination policy”.

The ally of Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro was elected last year after promising to “slaughter” criminals, a policy legal experts said was tantamount to extrajudicial killings.

The hashtag #aculpaedowitzel – “it’s Witzel’s fault” – began trending in Brazil.

Protestors make their way to the funeral of eight-year-old Agatha Sales Felix on Saturday.
Protestors make their way to the funeral of eight-year-old Agatha Sales Felix on Saturday.
AFP

“This is the death of a child whose only sin in her life was being poor. Why is the state security policy an extermination policy?” Luciano Bandeira, the president of Rio’s bar association, told O Globo newspaper.

“There is no remorse, no admission of fault, no will to rethink the policy to avoid other deaths like this happening.”

From January to August 2019, 1,249 people in Rio state were killed by police officers – 16 per cent more than the previous year.

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