Brazilian athlete shot in head in Rio

A Brazilian police officer patrols the Santo Amaro shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, as the city experiences a surge in violent crime and robberies ahead of the Olympics which open on August 5 (AFP Photo/Vanderlei Almeida)
A Brazilian police officer patrols the Santo Amaro shantytown in Rio de Janeiro, as the city experiences a surge in violent crime and robberies ahead of the Olympics which open on August 5 (AFP Photo/Vanderlei Almeida)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - A Brazilian competitive shooter was fighting for her life Friday after being shot in the head during an attempted robbery in Rio de Janeiro, underlining a crime wave sweeping the city two months before the Olympics.

Anna Paula Cotta, 27, a member of Brazil's navy who had tried out for the Olympic team but didn't get a spot, was shot Thursday as she drove her car in northern Rio.

The city is experiencing a surge in violent crime and robberies ahead of the Olympics, which open on August 5.

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In another incident, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Rio, Cardinal Orani Tempesta, reported on his website that he had been forced to take shelter behind his car Friday when a gun battle broke out during a police operation in a favela near a major central highway.

A photograph showed him taking cover, along with other motorists, at the side of the road. On two occasions in 2014 and 2015 Tempesta survived armed hold-ups in which religious items like a crucifix were stolen.

Cotta's shooting occurred when she left home at dawn to help her sick father at the family business, according to Brazilian newspaper reports.

Thieves attempted to steal the car and when she tried to escape they opened fire multiple times. She was hospitalized in serious condition.

"An examination of the site was carried out. Officers are looking for (camera) images and carefully searching the area to gather necessary evidence for the investigation," the civil police force said in a statement.

The attack on Cotta, a pistol specialist who was reported to have been about to participate in a Brazilian championship event this Saturday, followed the armed mugging of members of the Spanish sailing team in Rio last month. None of them were hurt, but they were forced to give up their valuables.

Murders were up nearly 16 percent between January and April this year, compared to the same period in 2015, according to official statistics. Authorities say that the deployment of 85,000 police and soldiers will keep the Olympics safe.

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