July 10, 2015 / 9:01 PM / 4 years ago

Rio de Janeiro subway assailants shoot man dead, force shutdown

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Assailants shot and killed a man beside a subway-station ticket counter in central Rio de Janeiro Friday afternoon, prompting a shutdown of the station and renewing security concerns just over a year before the city hosts the 2016 Olympics.

The victim, a middle-aged man whose name has not been disclosed, was followed by three men into the subway station, where one of the assailants shot him and took his bag, according to Metro Rio, the company that operates the subway system in Brazil’s second-biggest city.

In addition to the target of the assault, who died shortly after being shot, another bystander was injured in the leg. As of late Friday afternoon, none of the assailants had been arrested.

Police in a statement said they were investigating the shooting, which occurred shortly before 1 p.m. (1700 GMT) and forced a three-hour shutdown of the Uruguaiana subway station, located in a bustling retail area frequented by shoppers, commuters and office workers.

Local media broadcast photos and videos taken by passengers after the shooting, including some graphic imagery of the victim in a bloodstained shirt lying dead near the subway ticket window.

The incident led news broadcasts and web sites of Brazil’s major media at a time when many in Latin America’s biggest country, already grappling with an economic downturn and a political crisis, are also worried about increased violence.

Crime levels in Rio and other major cities remain below those of recent decades, when assaults and kidnappings were everyday concerns.

But a spate of deadly attacks, including the fatal stabbing in May of a physician who was riding his bike around a lagoon in an upscale Rio neighborhood, have heightened concerns that the city and other major metropolitan areas are backsliding on security issues.

Rio will host the first Olympics ever held in South America next year. The opening ceremony, at Maracana stadium just west of the central area where Friday’s shooting occurred, is scheduled for August 5.

Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Christian Plumb

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