Police clash with protesters in Sao Paulo

Saturday 17 May 2014 08.44
Protesters also clashed with police in Sao Paulo on Thursday night
Protesters also clashed with police in Sao Paulo on Thursday night

Brazilian police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a protest last night near the airport in Sao Paulo, the city hosting the football World Cup opener in less than a month.

Scores of protesters torched at least two vehicles and launched fireworks at police in a clash in the Taboao neighborhood, in the Guarulhos area, police said.

Protesters were demanding better living conditions, according to local media.

"They looted fireworks and ignited them and threw them at police. There were no reports of injury but some vehicles were damaged," a police spokeswoman said.

She estimated the number of demonstrators to be around 50.

Sao Paulo's Guarulhos airport has just opened a new international terminal to handle the flood of foreigners expected to arrive for the World Cup, which starts on 12 June.

A series of protests have shaken Brazil ahead of the month-long tournament.

Brazil faced a major test of its security preparations Thursday as 10,000 demonstrators angry at the huge cost of hosting the World Cup took to the streets in Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Manaus, Porto Alegre, Rio and Sao Paulo.

In Sao Paulo, the country's business hub, about 6,000 people staged several marches throughout the day, with some leading to clashes with police and acts of vandalism.

In the northeastern city of Recife, a partial strike by military police was lifted after youths took advantage of the opportunity to loot stores and go on a rampage.

Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo assured reporters that demonstrations will decrease during the World Cup and the country will adopt a festive atmosphere.

About 600,000 foreign visitors are expected for the tournament, in addition to about three million Brazilians who will travel domestically for the matches.