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Rio police investigate 2 officers who fired apparent live rounds during anti-World Cup protest

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RIO DE JANEIRO - Two police officers who allegedly fired live rounds during an anti-World Cup protest in Rio de Janeiro are under investigation and on administrative leave, authorities said Monday.

One of the officers was a motorcycle-mounted member of the riot police who was seen on an Associated Press video firing a single round from his pistol at protesters. His name was not released, and it's not known if any protesters were hurt by the shot, fired about 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) from the Maracana stadium as Argentina was playing Bosnia-Herzegovina.

During the same small but violent and chaotic protest Sunday night, another police officer, who was in plainclothes and off duty, jumped out of his car after it was stuck in traffic because of the demonstration, waved his gun in the face of bystanders and fired two shots into the air. Authorities identified him as Luiz do Amaral.

"The riot policeman who is shown using a lethal weapon in images ... voluntarily turned himself to his unit's command," police said in an emailed statement. "He'll be investigated by internal affairs to determine if any wrongdoing occurred."

Police said protesters had thrown Molotov cocktails at officers during a clash at barricades put up to keep demonstrators away from stadiums across Brazil, which was wracked by huge demonstrations during last year's Confederations Cup soccer tournament.

The protests now being seen are tiny in comparison. The Sunday night demonstration in Rio attracted just 200 people.

Polls say Brazilians are deeply frustrated with government officials at all levels. Many see the $11.5 billion spent on the World Cup as emblematic of mismanagement and waste — much of the money has been spent on lavish soccer stadiums that in at least four cases may not see much use after the Cup.

Despite the frustrations, protests now seen in World Cup host cities are drawing mostly young and hard-core "Black Bloc" anarchist demonstrators, who often clash with police and carry out vandalism, often of banks and international businesses.

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Bradley Brooks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bradleybrooks

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