Just 50 days before Brazil hosts the World Cup, authorities have beefed up security in Rio de Janeiro after a violent clash between residents and police in a slum near the tourist haven of Copacabana beach.
Dozens of military police, including members of a special forces battalion, moved into the Pavao-Pavaozinho slum, which is also not far from the well-heeled Ipanema district, an AFP journalist reported.
The security operation comes after protests late on Tuesday by residents over the death of a dancer who residents say was the victim of police brutality.
A 27-year-old man was fatally shot in the head during the protests.
The deadly unrest was another blow for Rio’s public image as Brazil prepares to host the month-long World Cup, which kicks off on June 12, and the Summer Olympic Games in 2016.
Relative calm had returned to the area on Wednesday, as firefighters and cleaners swept up broken glass and rubble from tire barricades that residents had set ablaze the night before.
Just metres away, surfers carrying their boards walked past heavily-armed police to enjoy the beach’s famed waves.
Rio will host seven World Cup matches, including the final – but violence has recently flared in several of the city’s slums known as favelas, as the government struggles to crack down on organised crime.
Since 2008, city authorities have established dozen of so-called “pacification” units in the favelas, including Pavao-Pavaozinho.
Many of them nevertheless remain under the sway of crime lords and violent drug gangs – and those gangs are fighting back, attacking police as they defend their turf.