Brazil to send troops to Rio for World Cup security

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 03:11

Brasilia: Brazil will deploy the military in slums near Rio`s international airport to back up police as the city braces for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of tourists for the World Cup, authorities said Monday.

Justice Minister Eduard Cardozo announced the reinforcements, without giving troop numbers nor the start date for the operation.

"The federal government supports the Rio government in this battle with armed crime," said Cardozo.

He spoke after a meeting with Rio Governor Sergio Cabral and the armed forces chief of staff, General Jose Carlos de Nardi, who is in charge of planning the deployment.

The move follows a spate of attacks on Rio police in slum areas despite an intensive, years long effort to "pacify" the densely packed neighborhoods.

With the World Cup kicking off on June 12, Rio turned to President Dilma Rousseff for federal help.

Cardozo said the focus of the troop deployment would be in the sprawling Mare favela near the Galeao international airport in northern Rio.

The favela, home to 100,000 people, is a haven for gang warfare and drug-dealing near what will be the main entry point for the flood of World Cup fans.

"There are weapons and drugs, stolen cars and motor bikes and criminals who take refuge there as if it were their territory," Cabral said.

Insisting Brazil was perfectly capable of hosting an estimated 600,000 foreign World Cup tourists, Cardozo said troops would "stay as long as necessary" until a 1,500-strong Police Pacification Unit can be established in Mare.

An advance force of 120 special police already has moved into the area, the officials said.

Cabral vowed that authorities would not shrink from the task of "pacifying" violent shanty towns.

Since 2008, more than 9,000 police officers have been deployed in 38 units to `pacify` favelas in thrall to gangs and drug lords.

Reuters

First Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 03:11

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