Robbers hold up guests at luxury Rio hotel

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 18, 2011 11:10 AM
Robbers hold up guests at luxury Rio hotel

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Armed men invaded one of Rio de Janeiro's most exclusive hotels and robbed guests including foreign tourists early Monday, police and hotel officials said.

The incident is a reminder of the lingering security problems that the beachside Brazilian city faces as it prepares to host the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games two years later.

An official with the city's tourist police confirmed media reports that there had been an invasion of the hotel in Rio's hilly Santa Teresa district but said no further details were available. A spokeswoman for the luxurious Hotel Santa Teresa told Reuters that four armed men had held up guests, including about 10 foreign tourists.

The Globo news website cited police as saying the gunmen had entered the hotel before dawn Monday and had all escaped. There were no reports of injuries to the guests.

Violent crime in Rio has fallen in recent years as authorities have taken a tougher stance on public order and police have occupied more than a dozen slums that were long dominated by gun-toting drug traffickers.

But hundreds of slums in Rio are still controlled by armed gangs. Gunmen took 35 guests hostage at another five-star hotel last August as they fled a shoot-out with police.

The Hotel Santa Teresa has become a favorite destination for well-to-do foreign visitors since it opened in 2008, with guests including celebrities paying up to about $2,000 per night for the best rooms.

Rio is currently hosting 4,000 athletes from 112 countries for the World Military Games.

(Reporting by Stuart Grudgings)