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RIO VIOLENCE

Brazilian athlete shot in head in attempted robbery in Rio

Amid worries about safety ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, an athlete who tried out for the national shooting team is in serious condition in hospital.

Brazilian athlete shot in head in attempted robbery in Rio

Amid worries about safety ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, another incident of violence on the streets of the capital has hit the headlines. The athlete, one of Brazil's potential shooting team was shot Thursday as she drove her car through northern Rio.

Anna Paula Cotta, 27, was a member of Brazil's navy and had tried, but failed, to secure a place in the final team.

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.

The car that Anna Paula Cotta was driving at the time of the attack.

'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.

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

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.

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. As well as violence, the event is under the spotlight for the outbreak of the Zita virus which is putting in doubt some athletes, their families and fans from attending the Games.