Youth death sparks Brazil bus burnings

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Residents of a northern suburb of Rio torched five buses on Monday shortly after a 17-year-old youth died in a shoot-out between criminals and police, Brazilian media reported.

It again put a harsh spotlight on security in the country, just six weeks before Brazil hosts the football World Cup, with Rio staging seven matches including the July 13 final.

The victim was in a stolen car and a firearm was found by his side, military police said after the shooting, which the G1 web portal reported came during a police crackdown on drug dealing and car thefts in the Morro de Chapadao slum.

Following the shoot-out, a 20-strong group of youths set fire to the buses.

It came nearly a week after police and people in a slum a short walk from the tourist haven of Copacabana beach clashed following the death of a dancer which residents blamed on police.

Separately, earlier on Monday, youths set alight three cars in the Alemao slum after the death of a 72-year-old woman in circumstances which remained unclear, G1 reported.

Since 2008 the Rio government has been rolling out a programme of police "pacification", sending specialist units into 174 favelas in thrall to criminal gangs who have been fighting back to protect their turf.

Brazilian authorities and world football body Fifa say they are confident a massive security programme comprising 150,000 police and troops and 20,000 private security agents will maintain order for the month-long event.