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2 young girls killed by stray bullets in Rio neighborhood

Grieving families held funerals Saturday for two young children killed by bullets while playing outside their homes in Rio de Janeiro’s Baixada Fluminense region.

The 4- and 7-year old girls, cousins, were hit in the head in the abdomen, respectively, Friday night.

Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals at Rio’s Nossa Senhora das Graças Cemetery, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets.

Relatives of Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, 4, and Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, 7, mourn during their burial at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and Rebeca, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

In an email sent to the Associated Press, Military Police denied there were shots fired by military police. The statement said: “a police team from the 15th Police Battalion was on patrol when gunshots were heard and the team continued on the move.” It said investigation will be carried out.

The grandmother of 7-year-old Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, Lídia da Silva Moreira Santos, who is also the aunt of 4-year-old Emily Victória Silva dos Santos, said that when she arrived home from work around 8 p.m. on Friday she saw police shooting toward the community where the families lived.

Relative Ana Lúcia Alves de Souza, 51, denied there had been an exchange of gunfire with police.

Relatives of Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, 4, and Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, 7, mourn during their burial at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and Rebeca, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

“What is their preparation that the police cannot distinguish between an adult and a child? There was no exchange of gunfire. Emily was shot in the head,” she said.

The NGO Fogo Cruzado, or Crossfire, said that with the shooting deaths of Emily and Rebeca 22 children under 12 have been hit by stray bullets in 2020, eight of whom have died.

Emily’s father said emotionally: “I’m burying my daughter, who hasn’t lived at all.

Relatives of Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, 4, and Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, 7, mourn during their burial at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and Rebeca, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

AP video producer Diarlei Rodrigues and video journalist Lucas Dumphreys contributed to this report.

Relatives of Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, 4, and Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, 7, mourn during their burial at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and Rebeca, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

Relatives of Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, 4, and Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, 7, mourn during their burial at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and Rebeca, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

Relatives of Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, 4, and Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, 7, attend their burial at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and Rebeca, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

Alexsandro dos Santos, center, is helped by friends during the burial of his 4-year-old daughter Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and her 7-year-old cousin Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

Alexsandro dos Santos seals with cement the niche that contains the remains of his 4-year-old daughter Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos, at a cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and her 7-year-old cousin Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)

The niches that contain the remains of 4-year-old Emily Victoria Silva dos Santos and her 7-year-old cousin Rebeca Beatriz Rodrigues dos Santos, 7, are sealed with cement at the cemetery in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020. Grieving families held funerals for Emily and Rebeca, killed by bullets while playing outside their homes. Weeping and cries of “justice” were heard Saturday at their funerals, reflecting the families’ assertion that the children were killed by police bullets. (AP PhotoSilvia Izquierdo)