Brazil Prison Riot Leaves 57 Dead And 16 Beheaded

30 July 2019, 10:09

People seek information about family members who are prisoners after a riot inside the Regional Recovery Center in Altamira, Brazil
People seek information about family members who are prisoners after a riot inside the Regional Recovery Center in Altamira, Brazil. Picture: PA

At least 57 prisoners have died after a five-hour riot at a prison in Brazil's northern region of Para. At least 16 prisoners were beheaded and others suffocated when part of the jail was set on fire.

The riot was reportedly started by two criminal gangs, the Rio de Janeiro-based Comando Vermelho and a local criminal group known as Comando Classe A.

Leaders of the Comando Classe A set parts of the jail on fire, preventing authorities from getting inside and damaging areas where members of the rival gang Comando Vermelho were located.

It began at about 7am while breakfast was being served.

57 prisoners are known to have died, at least 16 were beheaded and other inmates suffocated in the smoke when part of the prison was set on fire.

Two guards were taken hostage during the hours-long clashes, which were brought under control at around midday. They were eventually freed.

Relatives grieve after dozens of prisoners have died in fights between hostile gangs in a prison.
Relatives grieve after dozens of prisoners have died in fights between hostile gangs in a prison. Picture: PA

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.

Violence in Brazilian prisons is not uncommon. The country has the world's third-largest prison population of some 700,000 people, and overcrowding is a widespread problem.

Clashes between rival gangs and riots are frequent.

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