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Beware of strangers and mosquitoes at WC

Thursday, May 08, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO - Stick together; don't accept drinks from strangers; don't visit favelas and don't forget the mosquito repellent.

That's just some of the consular advice being offered to foreign football fans heading to the World Cup in Brazil next month.

The advice for fans from the US, England, Germany and Argentina comes as Brazil races to be ready for the tournament against a backdrop of social unrest over the cost of the event, poor public services and crime.

Much of the worst violence is concentrated in slum districts known as favelas, where so-called police pacification units have been battling drug traffickers and crime gangs.

But tourist havens in Rio — which will host seven matches, including the July 13 final — also suffer regular assaults and robberies, while authorities recently revealed a surge in murder rates.

Homicides in Rio state as a whole rose 23.6 per cent in March compared with last year, and 10 per cent in Rio city itself, the Rio Institute for Public Security said in figures released on Saturday.

Friday saw a fatal shooting in the Rocinha slum easily visible from the luxury hotel where the England team will stay.

Robberies were up by around a third with tourist hotspot such as well-heeled Ipanema some of the worst afflicted.

Last month, a youth grabbed a woman's gold necklace just as she was being interviewed — about crime — on live television.

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