Rio police fire tear gas after dancer's funeral; Fifa says World Cup won't be threatened

Relatives and friends of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira (27), who was killed two days ago by the police, demonstrate inside the tunel between Botafogo and Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, before his funeral on April 24, 2014. Brazilian police fired tea
Relatives and friends of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira (27), who was killed two days ago by the police, demonstrate inside the tunel between Botafogo and Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, before his funeral on April 24, 2014. Brazilian police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of angry mourners who attended the Rio funeral on Thursday. -- PHOTO: AFP 

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Brazilian police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of angry mourners who attended the Rio funeral Thursday of a dancer friends and family say was the victim of police brutality.

Violence flared on Tuesday in the city's tourist Copacabana Beach area following the man's death, heightening fears about security in a city that will host seven World Cup games including the July 13 final.

After vowing to return home peacefully after the funeral, about 20-30 people crossed paths with police when the group blocked traffic, prompting police to fire tear gas to move them on.

Large crowds had earlier marched ahead of the open coffin of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira as his body inched its way towards the Sao Joao Batista cemetery where 400 people were gathered shouting "Justice! Justice! Police murderers!"

Local media says the 25-year-old died after he was mistaken for a drug trafficker by police, sparking unrest in a favela, or slum, just a stone's throw from Copacabana Beach and close to another well-heeled tourist area, Ipanema.

A 27-year-old man described as mentally disabled was killed after being shot in the head during the protests, which quickly escalated and spread.

The dancer's mother, Maria de Fatima Silva, 56, spoke at a vigil for her son as police monitored from afar.

"Why are they here?! They killed my son and they come here! They disgust me," she said.

Police in recent months have cranked up efforts to clear favelas of violent criminals before the month-long World Cup kicks off on June 12, followed by the Olympics in 2016.

Although a huge slum "pacification" programme was launched six years ago to improve security in Rio, the gangs have been fighting back.

There were street protests last year by people outraged that billions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure for the World Cup and Olympics instead of on public housing, roads, more aid for the poor and ending violent crime.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said on Thursday the deadly violence which saw tourist areas turned into battle grounds does not affect Brazil's hosting of the World Cup.

"It is a tragic episode which causes sadness but it is not sufficient to say the Cup is at risk," Valcke told reporters.

"I have received several messages asking me if there is a civil war in Brazil and I have replied no," added Valcke, speaking in the northern city of Fortaleza.

He winds up his latest check on Brazil's World Cup preparations in Rio on Friday.