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Olympics: Brazil halves elite police force for Games

[RIO DE JANEIRO] Brazil will deploy only half the 9,000 elite police originally planned for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this August, a state official said Wednesday.

"I was expecting to get 9,000 men from the national force, but it seems (the government) will only send half. It will be a challenge, but we're ready for it," Rio state security secretary Mario Beltrame told newspaper O Globo.

"This is going to compromise the strategic security plan for the Olympics. The other states (of Brazil) aren't willing to send their share. I can understand that," he added, saying other states faced their own policing headaches.

He said the federal government had informed him several days ago that he would receive only 4,500 officers from the elite police force.

The Olympic security plan announced several months ago provided for a total of some 80,000 police and soldiers for the violence-plagued city, double the number deployed for the 2012 London Games.

Brazil also published a presidential decree Wednesday authorizing the military to shoot down any "hostile" aircraft threatening the Games.

The measure, similar to ones enacted for the 2014 World Cup and 2013 Confederations Cup, will apply nationwide.

"Suspect" planes will first be warned, then considered "hostile" if they do not comply, it said.

AFP