World Cup

Rio forms special police battalion for big events

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP)

A special police battalion has been created to help control violent demonstrations expected during the upcoming World Cup and other large sporting and cultural events held in public venues, the Rio de Janeiro state government has announced.

Rio de Janeiro's state police department Tuesday said in an e-mailed statement that the battalion is composed of about 500 specially trained officers recruited from police units statewide.

The statement said that the battalion was part of the ''preparations for the 2014 World Cup and for the Olympic Games of 2016 that will take place in Rio de Janeiro.''

The battalion has been in service for the past three months but the Public Safety Department officially announced its creation on Monday in the state's official gazette.

Rio's Maracana stadium will host seven World Cup games including the July 13 final.

Last June, violent protests erupted around Brazil against bus fare hikes, corruption, poor public services and the billions of dollars being spent on the World Cup and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. At least six people died in connection with the protests, and Rio saw some of the most violent ones.

Brazil announced last week that 10,000 members of an elite federal security force will help better control the demonstrations expected around the country during the World Cup.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has criticized Brazil's slow preparations for the World Cup, calling the country further behind than any other hosting the international event during his tenure. He has said he believes there will be more of the kind of protests that marred last year's Confederations Cup, but is hopeful they won't impact the World Cup.

Jerome Valcke, the top FIFA official in charge of the World Cup, has said that the tournament would have ''the highest level of security you can imagine'' to contain any violence.

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