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Security beefed up at Games after bus hit by stones

olympics 2016 Updated: Aug 10, 2016 23:25 IST
Rio 2016

Security had been an issue ahead of the Games in Rio, and there were protests ahead of and during the Opening Ceremony as well.(REUTERS)

Rio Games organizers stepped up police patrols around the Olympic Park on Wednesday after two people were injured when a bus was hit by what security officials said were stones hurled by vandals.

Passengers on the bus reported hearing the sound of gun shots before two windows shattered as it passed through the Curicaca neighbourhood just north of Olympic Park on Tuesday night. However, a preliminary police investigation concluded the projectiles were stones.

The incident follows a series of robberies of athletes, journalists and spectators during the first Games to be held in South America, which started on Friday. Police are also investigating how a stray bullet hit the equestrian center on Saturday, which they said came from a nearby slum.

Luiz Fernando Correa, security chief for the Games, said stones had hit the metal rim of the bus’s windows, making a loud noise, before smashing the glass.

“We have not been able to identify who did this but it appears to be an act of vandalism not an act of criminal aggression targeting anyone in particular,” he told reporters. He did not specify if they had found the stones had been found.

Correa said police would step up patrols along roads linking the Olympic Park with the Deodoro stadium where basketball events are being held. The route passes several poor neighbourhoods, and only Olympic buses and military personnel were travelling along it on Wednesday morning.

A police source told Reuters it was the third time an Olympics bus had been targeted by youths throwing stones.

“This was a worrying and intolerable incident,” Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada told a news conference, adding that organizers were striving to improve security.

A Reuters photograph taken in the first moments after the bus incident showed a small hole, about the width of a finger, in one of the windows.

Sherryl “Lee” Michaelson, who was travelling on the bus when it was hit, said she had heard shots just before the windows shattered. She said she was a retired U.S. air force captain and is working in Rio for a basketball publication.

“I will not believe that was stone-throwing unless I see a forensics and a ballistics report looking not at the steel surround ... but at the glass, which was the point of impact,” Michaelson told reporters after the news conference. (Additional reporting by Brad Brooks and Rodrigo Viga; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)