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Ms. Franco's driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also killed, when a vehicle pulled up next to theirs at a downtown intersection and someone shot nine bullets into the auto, five of which reportedly hit Ms. Franco in the head.

Just a day before her death Franco blamed police for the latest shooting death of a young man in a favela, where police, shadowy militias and heavily armed drug gangs wrestle for control.

By Thursday morning, around 1,000 people had gathered in central Rio to mourn Franco's death, while some 30,000 more had signaled their intention on social media to attend at least one of several rallies later in the day. "Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed", she wrote. "They come to kill our young!" she said. Of Afro-Brazilian descent, Franco overcame many obstacles and leaped over odds, earning a position as a city council member with the fifth highest vote among her peers.

The reported rise in police violence comes on the back of a federal government decree that allows the army to take over all security operations in Rio until the end of the year.

The city has been mired in violence for decades but the security situation has worsened dramatically since the end of the Olympic Games in 2016. It's also being criticized because generals don't appear to have the appetite to take on major components of the violence: endemic police corruption and heavy-handed tactics. "One of these issues was the public security in Rio, and the pension reform temporarily left the legislative agenda but did not leave the country's agenda", Temer said. That was a subtle way of saying the government did not think the local police force, which would usually be exclusively responsible for investigating a killing, is up to the task.

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Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella called it a "brutal assassination" and Rio's Public Security Secretary Richard Nunes said in a statement that there will be "full investigation on the assassination".

"I am devastated", said Ana Paula Brandao, 48.

"Marielle was an outspoken and courageous advocate for victims of police abuse and a tireless defender of the rights of women and Afro-Brazilians", said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch.

In a statement, Brazil President Michel Temer described Franco's killing as "an attack on democracy and the rule of law". Members of her family and her party were unaware of any threats against her life, according to local media.

Security consultant Paulo Storani, a former commander of Rio's elite police force, the BOPE, warned against jumping to conclusions about the police or blaming the military intervention, which he believes will be ineffective.


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