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Leader of Samba Troupe Gunned Down in Brazil

A leader of a top samba troupe has been gunned down in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, days before the start of Carnival celebrations.

Unknown assailants killed Guaracy Paes Falcao and his wife early Wednesday. Falcao was the vice president of the samba school Salgueiro.

The motive of the killing was unclear.

Brazilian media report that 20 shots were fired into the couple's vehicle and that the attack was captured on a supermarket's security camera.

Carnival officially begins on Friday in Brazil with loud street processions. Dazzling parades by top samba schools are televised worldwide.

A day before the shooting police clashed with alleged drug traffickers in the slums of Rio, killing six people.

Last week, a six-year-old boy was dragged to his death during a carjacking in the city. Several suspects, including a 16-year-old, have been arrested for that attack.

And nine people died on Sunday in a shoot-out between suspected drug dealers, police and militia in Rio's slums.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.