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Protesters Converge on Rio's Central Transport Station

  • VOA News

A firework explodes as members of the "Free Pass" movement invade the Central Train Station to demand zero tariffs in the Brazilian public transport system in Rio de Janeiro, Feb.6, 2014.

A firework explodes as members of the "Free Pass" movement invade the Central Train Station to demand zero tariffs in the Brazilian public transport system in Rio de Janeiro, Feb.6, 2014.

Hundreds of protesters in Brazil have clashed with police in the main transport station of Rio de Janiero, protesting a sizable hike in fares for buses and trains.

Riot police used batons and tear gas to try to regain control inside the Central do Brasil station, where protesters blocked turnstiles Thursday, allowing some rush-hour commuters to ride free. The fare hike, which goes into effect Saturday, raises prices nearly 10 percent.

A cameraman for a local television station was hit in the head by an explosive device and is reported to be hospitalized in serious condition. It is not clear whether the protesters or the police are responsible for the blow.

Local media say some 20 people were arrested during the protest.

The protesters say they are indignant not just because transportation costs are rising, but because they say despite high taxes, public services such as transportation, health care and education are of poor quality.

Some are also angered by the billions of dollars Brazil is spending to host this year's World Cup football (soccer) competition.

While the riots resulted in some injuries and fire damage to the station, reports say the gathering is nowhere near as large as a similar transportation demonstration last year that resulted in officials backing off of a proposed fare hike.

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