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Brazil jail riot in Para state leaves 57 dead as gangs fight

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At least 57 people have been killed in a prison riot in Brazil which saw rival gangs battle for five hours, officials say.

Gang members from one prison block invaded another part of Altamira jail in Pará state.

Sixteen of the dead were decapitated and the remainder suffocated after part of the prison was set on fire, officials said at a news conference.

Two prison officers who were taken hostage have since been freed.

The violence began at about 07:00 local time (10:00 GMT) on Monday, and ended at around noon, officials said.

Members of the Comando Classe A (CCA) gang set fire to a cell where rival gang members from Comando Vermelho (Red Command) were kept, the Pará state government said in a statement.

The structure of the cell allowed the fire to spread quickly, resulting in the death by asphyxiation of some inmates.

Officials said that the two prison officers taken hostage were soon released, because the goal of the attack was to strike at the rival gang – rather than at the prison guards.

There had been no prior warning or signs of an impending attack on this scale, the statement said.

Video reported to be from the prison carried by Brazilian media showed smoke billowing from at least one prison building, while another clip appeared to show inmates walking around on the rooftops.

The prison in Altamira where Monday’s violence broke out has a capacity of 200, but was occupied by 309 prisoners. Officials denied it was overcrowded.

The Ministry of Justice said that ringleaders of the violence will be transferred to more secure units in federal jails.

BBC

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