updated 11/27/2010 1:42:30 PM ET 2010-11-27T18:42:30

Police in Rio de Janeiro gave drug traffickers holed up in a hillside slum an ultimatum on Saturday to turn themselves in and help put an end to a wave of urban violence that has killed at least 46 people.

More than 1,000 police and army officers surrounded the shantytown as part of an unusually determined effort by security forces to take control of territory that has long been controlled by drug gangs.

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Authorities have cast the battle as part of a larger effort to pacify the city ahead of the Olympic Games in 2016. Drug gangs have fought back by setting fire to around 100 cars and buses and firing on police with automatic weapons.

"There is not the slightest chance traffickers can win in this war in Alemao," head of the military police Sergio Duarte told reporters, referring to the surrounded shantytown.

"We are in position to invade Alemao at any moment. It's better they give themselves in now and bring their weapons while there's still time, because when we invade, it's going to be more difficult," he said.

Duarte did not give a date or time for the offensive.

The suspected traffickers fled to Alemao from the Vila Cruzeiro slum after police invaded it earlier this week and took control. Local media say officers have since found guns and grenades there and a machine to count bank notes from the traffickers' lucrative illegal trade.

Police are now searching vehicles and pedestrians entering Alemao. Gang members inside the slum have opened fire on the security forces to try to ward them off, injuring 10 people on Friday and Saturday, including a Reuters photographer.

Two men were arrested after trying to flee Alemao on Saturday. Police said they were believed to be gang leaders involved in the shooting down of a police helicopter earlier this year.

The latest wave of violence has cast some doubts over whether the city is safe enough to host the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, even though sports authorities have said they trust the government's security measures.

The military police said an area had been designated within the slum, or favela as they are locally known, where the gang members could surrender with their arms placed on their head, and said it was their only option to avoid an offensive.

Basic services disrupted
Beyond the deaths, basic services such as mail delivery and retail were disrupted as workers stayed home out of fear, or because bus companies kept vehicles off the roads for safety reasons. Many schools remained closed on the city's poorer north side, where many slums sit.

Video: Violence in Brazil (on this page)

Trains connecting the suburbs to the city had 10,000 fewer riders Friday, according to SuperVia, the company operating them.

Bars and restaurants emptied out all over town. The number of customers plunged 60 percent from usual levels, according to a statement by SindRio, which represents eateries and hotels.

Trash collection was suspended in the conflict zone and electricity was still out, the result of damage to cables during clashes between police and gunmen. The waste management company, Comlurb, and Light, which delivers electricity, issued statements saying it wasn't safe for their workers to enter the slums.

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While gunfire rattled in Alemao, federal and state police conducted door-to-door searches and patrols in the nearby Vila Cruzeiro slum. That area was seized by officers Thursday during a five-hour operation using armored vehicles and assault rifles.

After police armored cars had their tires blown out by gangs or were stymied by burning tires, police relied on military armored personnel carriers equipped with caterpillar treads to roll over or push aside barriers and enter the fortified shantytown.

Pedestrians applauded as the military convoy rattled through city streets on the way to the Alemao favela, or shantytown, where traffickers took shelter after fleeing from advancing police on Thursday.

Masked men, some dressed in shorts and camouflage T-shirts, defiantly waved their machine guns in the air. Others pointed their guns down the winding roads of the hilly slum, apparently on watch for advancing police officers.

Slideshow: A wave of violence in Rio de Janeiro (on this page)

Some of them fired shots at a police helicopter patrolling the area, according to a Reuters witness.

"We'll invade Alemao at the right moment. We're depending on information from intelligence services," said Roberto Sa, Rio de Janeiro state's under-secretary of public security.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Violence in Brazil

  1. Transcript of: Violence in Brazil

    CARL QUINTANILLA, anchor: A tense situation in Brazil tonight, a police crackdown on drug gangs. Today armored military vehicles rolled into the slums of Rio de Janeiro backed by hundreds of agents. Live pictures on Brazilian television showed gang members, some with automatic weapons, trying to escape. Thirty have died since the offensive began on Sunday. Brazil is scrambling to clean up Rio , host city for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics .

Photos: A wave of violence in the slums of Rio de Janeiro

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  1. Policemen put marijuana in a helicopter after an operation in the Complexo do Alemao shantytown taken by the army and the police without the armed resistance they expected. in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday, Nov. 28. (Miguel Fernandes / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Armed police gather as they take part in a raid on the shantytown of Alemao on Nov. 28, in Rio de Janeiro. After days of preparation, Brazilian security forces launched a raid against a slum where between 500 and 600 drug traffickers were holed up and refused to surrender. (Jefferson Bernardes / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. An alleged drug trafficker known as Zeu, center, is arrested during a police operation at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nov. 28. (Silvia Izquierdo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Children play in a pool at the a house of an alleged drug trafficker at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 28. (Andre Penner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A policeman jumps over a door during the raid in the Morro do Alemao shantytown on Nov. 28. (Jefferson Bernardes / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A resident holding a baby hides behind a door as an armored police vehicle patrols during an operation at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Nov. 28. (Andre Penner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Police officers inspect a place used by drug traffickers to produce drugs at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Nov. 28. (Andre Penner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Police take position during an operation against drug traffickers at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Nov. 28. (Andre Penner / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. A Brazilian soldier takes part in an operation against drug traffickers in the Grota slum of Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, Nov. 27. Dozens of people have been killed during the past week in clashes between drug gangs and the security forces that are trying to break their hold on the slums, according to authorities. (Fernando Bizerra Jr / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Soldiers patrol a street during an operation against drug traffickers at the Complexo do Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro on Nov. 27. Security forces were preparing to invade in an effort to push drug gangs out an area long considered the most dangerous in Rio, a city set to host the 2016 Olympics. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. An alleged drug trafficker aims a weapon while escaping on a motorcycle at the Complexo do Alemao in Rio. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A photographer takes his position behind an empty water tank during an operation in the Alemao slum. Police gave drug traffickers holed up in the hillside slum an ultimatum on Saturday to turn themselves in. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. People shout for help for an unconscious man who was apparently injured after a house caught fire during shooting as a result of a police operation in the Complexo do Alemao slum. (Silvia Izquierdo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A child reacts during shooting between police and drug traffickers in the Complexo do Alemao slum. (Silvia Izquierdo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A handcuffed suspect caught in Alemao slum sits in a police bus. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Two women carry a birthday cake in the middle of an operation against drug traffickers in the Grota slum. (Marcelo Sayao / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. In this image taken through a car window, soldiers are seen during an operation against drug traffickers in the Complexo do Alemao slum. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A bus burns in the Maria da Graca neighborhood on Nov. 26. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Suspected drug gang members take positions in the Grota slum. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Soldiers unload an armored vehicle before an operation Nov. 26 in the Vila Cruzeiro slum. (Felipe Dana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Drug gang members leave the Vila Cruzeiro slum Nov. 25. (Stringer/brazil / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Two women take cover from shooting during a police operation Nov. 25 in the Vila Cruzeiro slum. (Silvia Izquierdo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Residents look at a burned bus Nov. 24 after an attack in the Vicente de Carvalho neighborhood. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A policeman checks suspects Nov. 24 during an operation in the Jacarezinho slum. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Policemen carry a suspected drug trafficker Nov. 23 after a shootout in the Mandela 2 slum. (Sergio Moraes / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. View of a police cabin bulletproof window following attacks by drug dealers Nov. 22 in Benfica, on the outskirts of Rio. (Antonio Scorza / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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