RIO DE JANEIRO — A major thoroughfare in Rio de Janeiro has been shut down repeatedly as military police engage in shootouts with suspected drug traffickers.

Images from a helicopter on Globo television showed people taking cover beside their cars Wednesday along the road known as the Linha Amarela, or Yellow Line. Authorities stopped traffic three times, with cars backing up for miles.

The firefight apparently spilled onto the multiple-lane road in northern Rio during a police operation in City of God, a violent shantytown that was featured in 2002 Oscar-nominated film by the same name.

Authorities are urging drivers to stay away from the area.

Rio has struggled to curb surging violence amid fallout from the country’s worst recession in decades.

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