Story highlights

A Brazilian cameraman died while filming a gun battle between police and alleged drug dealers

Police launched a massive operation in a slum in Rio de Janeiro

CPJ: There's been an increase in violence against journalists in Brazil

CNN  — 

A Brazilian cameraman died in a Rio de Janeiro slum while covering a police raid targeting organized drug militias, police said Sunday.

Gelson Domingos da Silva, 46, worked for Band TV, a CNN affiliate. He was filming a large-scale incursion by a Brazilian Special Operations Unit (BOPE) into a “favela,” the Portuguese word for shantytown, or slum, when he was shot in the chest, Rio de Janeiro police said in a statement.

“The Military Police deeply regrets the death of cameraman, Gelson Domingos da Silva, while expressing the most sincere sympathy to the family and all media professionals,” police said.

According to a Band TV press release, da Silva was covering the operation in the Antares favela, west of Rio, as an “embedded” photographer with Rio police.

Da Silva was wearing a bullet-proof vest certified by the Brazilian Armed Forces, often used by Band employees during these types of assignments, Band TV said. He was taken to a local emergency hospital but did not survive the gunshot wounds, Band TV reported.

Rio de Janeiro police said the operation began early Sunday morning after intelligence reports indicated that drug lords and heavily armed groups were gathering at that site.

Police said four alleged drug dealers were killed in the operation, and weapons and drugs were seized.

Dramatic images of da Silva’s last moments are being shown in Brazilian media, reminding Brazilians of how dangerous it has become for journalists to cover the drug war.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has “documented an alarming rise in lethal violence (against journalists) in Brazil in 2011,” the group said on its website.

“Four other Brazilian journalists have been killed this year, and a blogger shot and wounded,” CPJ reported.

“While Brazilian authorities have had success in prosecuting journalist murders, winning several convictions in recent years, the country still sees persistent anti-press violence. The October 2010 murder of a muckraking radio reporter became the country’s fifth unsolved case in the past decade,” CPJ reported.

CNN’s Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report