BELO HORIZONTE : Street protests erupted early Wednesday in the southeastern Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte hours before the national squad was to face Uruguay in the Confederations Cup semi-final. Demonstrators blocked roads and set a bus ablaze as authorities said they expect 60,00 protesters to turn up when the match kicks off at 1900 GMT in the state capital of Minas Gerais.

State authorities said 1,500 soldiers were to back up 5,700 police and firefighters in case the protests turn violent, as has occurred in various parts of the country over the past two weeks.

A police official, Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Luiz Alves, told Globo television that security forces would act “with civility and firmness.” Late Tuesday night, some 10,000 people, mainly students, protested at Montes Claros, prompting many bars and businesses to bring the shutters down.