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Arrests, injuries in fare protests in Brazil

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Protesters yesterday promised more organized action across Brazil in the days to come, following clashes in which police in Sao Paulo set upon thousands of young demonstrators angered by hikes in bus and subway fares.

Newspapers carried photos of bloodied protesters and journalists with battered, swollen faces, a young couple being beaten by police and videos of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets being fired into crowds chanting, "No violence!" Protesters set fire to garbage bags piled in streets, broke windows and spray-painted graffiti on buildings and buses.

Organizers said more than 100 demonstrators were injured. Police would only say that 12 officers were hurt and that more than 230 people were detained and later released in the Thursday night demonstrations in Sao Paulo.

Similar protests were seen in Rio de Janeiro, the capital Brasilia and in Porte Alegre in southern Brazil.

The focus of the protests is a 10-cent hike in public transport fares. Protesters said that seemingly small increase released pent-up frustrations in a nation with a heavy tax burden yet woeful public education, health and transport systems.

In Brasilia, about 200 people burned tires and blocked the main road in front of the city's soccer stadium, which will host the Confederations Cup opener today. The protest was organized by local groups complaining of excessive costs of the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. -- AP

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