Police, military occupy huge Rio favela: AFP

Police, military occupy huge Rio favela: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian troops and police early Sunday entered the vast Mare favela near Rio de Janeiro's airport to "pacify" the area in the lead-up to this year's football World Cup, AFP correspondents reported.

Mare is a drug-trafficking stronghold and considered one of the most dangerous places in the city, which will also host the Olympics in 2016.

More than a dozen armored vehicles backed hundreds of security personnel in the dawn offensive.

The Mare slum district is a cluster of 16 neighborhoods seen as havens for organized crime and home to around 130,000 people. It is just a few kilometers from Rio's international airport.

Authorities are stepping up efforts to quell violence as the World Cup, which kicks off on June 12, looms ever closer.

Rio will stage seven matches, including the July 13 final.

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