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World Cup concerns for Brazil

24 April 2014, 10:38

Cape Town - With just 49 days to go until the World Cup get underway it’s hard to believe it’s been four years since our beautiful country hosted this prestigious event.

While South Africa also hit a few stumbling blocks in its preparation, it seems Brazil is having problems of its own as the countdown to kick-off draws ever closer.

According to the Daily Mail, there have been more violent clashes between angry residents and police in a Rio de Janeiro favela with the start of the World Cup in Brazil just 49 days away.

Residents lit fires and peppered a busy avenue in a busy tourist area with homemade explosives and glass bottles after the death of a 25-year-old man.

They blame police for the death of a well-known dancer Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, whose body was found earlier in the day.

Exchanges of gunfire were heard after an elite police unit moved into the Pavao-Pavaozinho area yesterday.

The O Globo newspaper, citing local health officials, reported that another resident of the area was shot and killed, and a 12-year-old boy shot and wounded, during Tuesday night's gunfire. It's not clear who fired the shots that hit either, nor did police confirm the reports.

The Pavao-Pavaozinho favela lies just a few hundred yards from where Olympic swimming events are expected to take place in 2016. It was the latest violence to hit one of Rio's so-called 'pacified' favelas - impoverished areas that for decades were controlled by drug gangs.

Police began an ambitious security programme in 2008 to drive the gangs from such slums and for the first time set up permanent posts. It is part of Rio's overall security push ahead of the World Cup that begins this June and the Olympics the city will host. So far, 37 such 'police pacification units' have been created covering an area with a population of 1.5 million people.

But there have been repeated complaints of heavy-handed police tactics that have ended in the deaths of residents, and that is what set-off the latest clashes, resident said. More than two dozen police face charges from a high-profile case in a different area, when investigators said a local man died while being tortured by police.

In recent months, drug gangs have brazenly attacked police outposts, in what authorities themselves say is an effort to block the expansion of the 'pacification' programme and to win back lucrative drug-selling territory.

Brazil and the rest of the world will be hoping they can get the situation under control before kick-off on June 12.

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