Fare hike protests turn violent at Rio's transit hub

Feb. 7, 2014 at 9:50 AM
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Protests over transit fare hikes in Rio de Janeiro devolved into violence Friday at the city's Central Station, ensnaring rush hour commuters, witnesses said.

Riot police fired tear gas and worked to disperse the crowd as activists hurled stones and Molotov cocktails, the BBC reported.

A Band TV cameraman sustained "terrible head injuries" when he was hit by an explosive device, a BBC correspondent tweeted from the scene outside of the bus station.

Six other people were also injured and at least 20 protesters were arrested, O Globo newspaper reported.

Protesters were successful in rolling back a fare increase after the federal government said it would help state and municipal authorities underwrite the bill.

Last week, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes announced a 9 percent increase in fares that went into effect Friday. Bus fare rose from 2.75 reais (about $1.20) to 3 reais (about $1.30).

After marching to the transit hub, some activists jumped the gates and vandalized ticket machines, the BBC said. Rush-hour commuters were caught up in the protests inside and outside the hub.

"We won't pay three reais," demonstrators chanted.

"We want FIFA-standard hospitals too," protesters shouted, referring to standards demanded by World Cup organizers for venues when Brazil hosts the soccer tournament event in June and July.

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