SAO PAULO, Brazil - A police anti-drug raid in one of Rio de Janeiro's largest shantytowns has set off fierce gunbattles that have left at least seven people dead, including a three-year-old boy.

Officials say at least 50 heavily armed policemen entered the Jacarezinho slum Thursday afternoon to search for drugs and arrest suspected dealers. Police were met by gunfire, and in the ensuing shootouts - which lasted until this morning - three bullets struck and killed three-year-old boy.

Six people were wounded during the raid, including a police officer shot in the leg.

Another firefight between police and drug traffickers broke out early this morning in the Vila Cruzeiro shantytown and local media reported three suspected criminals were killed.

A record 1,260 civilians died in clashes with police in Rio de Janeiro state last year, according to a report released this week by the Rio de Janeiro State Institute of Public Safety.

Most killings occurred during "acts of resistance" - police jargon for armed confrontations with civilians.

The tally only includes figures reported by police stations that have computers - omitting about one-third of precincts from the total.

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