The first slaying in military action at a Rio de Janeiro shantytown complex known as Mare, which was occupied last week by the army, sparked protests by locals who said the victim was a worker with no ties to any criminal groups.

After the incident, hundreds of Mare residents came out in protest in this complex of poor neighborhoods, with a population of some 130,000 people, and tried to block two thoroughfares that cross it, but were stopped by police, officials said.

According to the Public Safety Secretariat of Rio de Janeiro state, the victim, 20, died this Saturday morning in an alleged shootout with soldiers after he supposedly disobeyed their orders to halt.

The shooting occurred in Vila dos Pinheiros, one of the shantytowns, or "favelas," among these poor neighborhoods in the area north of Rio de Janeiro, which were occupied exactly one week ago by 2,700 soldiers in an operation aimed at permanently expelling the gangs of gunmen who have dominated the region of decades.

Until now no death had been reported in Mare since the region started being patrolled by the army and marines.

Despite the official version that the death occurred in a shootout with gunmen, local inhabitants said the victim was employed at a car wash and was gunned down as he was showing up for work.

The Mare complex, made up of 15 shantytowns, was considered the last important bastion of drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro until two weeks ago, when 1,200 police led by the Special Operations Battalion, or BOPE, and backed by 21 military armored cars, occupied these slums.

A week later army soldiers substituted the police. EFE