Gunshots interrupt peace run in Rio de Janeiro

27 мая 2013, 18:59
Gunshots erupted ahead of a foot race for peace in Rio de Janeiro favela on Sunday, delaying the start by an hour as police stepped up security along the route, AFP reports citing a race spokesman.

The incident comes as the city prepares for a visit from Pope Francis -- his first international trip since becoming pope in March -- for World Youth Day in late July.

The country has also been working hard to improve security ahead of high profile gigs hosting the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 summer Olympics.

There were no injuries from the attempted sabotage at the race, the spokesman told AFP, and, after the delay, the race proceeded without incident through Rio de Janeiro's Vila Cruzeiro favela, which had been for decades controlled by drug traffickers.

Rio's secretary of security, Jose Beltrame, who participated in the 5K run, blamed the shooting on remnants of drug gangs operating in the area.

"This was (done by) a faction, that, though weakened, believes that its acts can alienate the police and the state," Beltrame told a local news site. "But we will not leave."

Military police did not immediately comment on the incident.

Since late 2010, police in Rio de Janeiro have launched a major crime-fighting drive in many poor neighborhoods in an attempt to wrest control back from drug gangs ahead of the world sports events.

Authorities have deployed special police forces in at least 32 of the city's 750 slums. They hope these units boasting a total of 12,500 officers will be operating in 40 shantytowns by 2014.

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