The upscale Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods of Leblon and Ipanema woke to the traces of violence left by demonstrators who lit bonfires in the streets and looted shops, Brazilian police said Thursday.
The disturbances came five days before the visit to the city of Pope Francis for the World Youth Day event.
Nevertheless, the public safety chief in Rio de Janeiro state, Jose Mariano Beltrame, said Thursday at a press conference that "planning for the pope's visit is ready."
"He has a protocol. One knows what's going to happen on the agenda of this dignitary and the issue of the demonstration is a different thing," Beltrame emphasized.
The signs of destruction were evident in the area after a group of several hundred demonstrators gathered to protest before the house of state Gov. Sergio Cabral and confronted about 80 police officers who dispersed the crowd.
The situation led Rio authorities to call an emergency meeting Thursday morning.
According to the police tally, at least five bank branches, newsstands, bus stops, billboards and some clothing stores were destroyed.
Firefighters had to intervene to put out several fires lit by the vandals.
State police said that seven officers were injured by hurled stones while another was attacked with a homemade bomb.
In all, police arrested 16 people. EFE