Nine people were killed in clashes between police and members of a gang of drug traffickers in a Rio de Janeiro slum, Brazilian authorities said Tuesday.

The battle began Monday night with the killing of a police sergeant and a neighborhood resident, which spurred a police operation to occupy Nova Holanda, one of a cluster of "favelas," or shantytowns, known as Complexo da Mare.

The search for the murderers ended in the wee hours of Tuesday with the death of at least six people, whom police identified as members of a drug trafficking gang, and the arrest of two others.

Another Nova Holanda resident died Tuesday at a Rio hospital of gunshot wounds received the previous night in the initial shootings.

One of those in custody was identified as Edvan Ezequiel Bezerri, 29, known as "Ninho" and whom police identified as a member of the trafficking gang and responsible for killing the sergeant.

Seized in the operation were a rifle, submachine gun, five handguns, a grenade and 2,327 small packets of marijuana.

The slain sergeant was among the police who entered Nova Holanda late Monday in pursuit of a group of gunmen who took advantage of the confusion generated by protest to rob shops on Avenida Brasil, one of Rio's main thoroughfares.

Complexo da Mare is one of the next targets of the "pacification" policy of the Rio de Janeiro state government, which plans to install perment police stations and offer public services in poor neighborhoods previously dominated by drug gangs.

The goal is to pacify all the shantytowns by 2016, when the city is to host the Olympics. EFE