News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Brazilian gang down police helicopter

A burning helicopter surrounded by Brazilian policemen

A notorious gang in Brazil is suspected to have shot down a police helicopter in a Rio de Janeiro’s city of  God favela killing about four police officers.

According to CNN, a footage of the crash shows that gunfire rent the air before the helicopter dropped from the sky like a stone and narrowly missing a main road.

Police say the crashed helicopter was giving support to their operation against gangs in the notorious city of favela.

There had been several clashes during the day between police and criminal gangs operating in the area.

Firefighters removed the bodies of the victims from the wreckage, which could be seen in the footage crumpled and smoking.

A police spokesman however, said that forensics officers were examining the wreckage to determine the cause of the crash.

If the helicopter was shot down by gang members, it would not be a first for the city, which hosted the 2016 Olympics.

In 2009, drug traffickers opened fire on a police helicopter, causing it to explode and crash land on a football pitch, killing both pilots.

Violence has been on the rise in Rio over the past two years following the failure of a 2010 programme to rid the favelas of drug gangs.

A total of 3,649 murders were reported in 2016 up until the end of September, a rise of almost 18% on the same period last year.