Brazil prison riot reportedly kills 52 inmates, with 16 decapitated

The violence started during the morning coffee break in Altamira prison


dpa, Hamburg, Germany

BOGOTA — Fifty-two prison inmates were killed on Monday in northern Brazil when criminal gangs clashed inside a prison, local media reported.

The violence started during the morning coffee break in Altamira prison in Para state, news portal UOL quoted penitentiary authorities as saying.

A police helicopter flies over the Regional Recovery Center, a prison, in Altamira, Para state, Brazil, Monday, July 29, 2019. (Wilson Soares/Panamazonica via AP)
A police helicopter flies over the Regional Recovery Center, a prison, in Altamira, Para state, Brazil, Monday, July 29, 2019. (Wilson Soares/Panamazonica via AP)

One of the gangs entered an area where members of the other gang were being kept, and the two groups clashed to gain control over the prison, according to news portal G1 and daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

Fifty-two people were killed, including 16 who were decapitated, authorities were quoted as saying. Some of the victims died from suffocation after part of the premises was set on fire.

Two prison guards were taken as hostages, but later released following negotiations mediated by the police, the army and representatives of the judiciary.

The prison was reported to be back under control following five hours of violence.

In May, 55 people were killed in similar circumstances in a penitentiary in Amazonas state.

Brazil's prisons house about 708,000 inmates, nearly 300,000 more than they officially have room for.

Many prisons are practically controlled by gangs which use them as bases to organize criminal activity outside. Violent incidents are not uncommon.

©2019 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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