Massacre in a prison in Brazil left 57 people dead, some of them beheaded

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — A gunbattle between two criminal groups in a prison in Brazil’s state of Parra left at least 57 people dead, 16 of them beheaded, state authorities said.

Authorities said the riot began at around 7 am local time (1000 GMT) in a prison in the northern city of Altamira between two rival groups.

The Para state government said in a statement that inmates of the criminal Commando Class A set fire to the inmates’ cell of the Commando Vermeil.

Most of the dead were killed in the fire and inmates took two guards hostage but later released them, she said.

“It was a deliberate action,” said Jarbas Vasconcelos, director of state prisons in the statement, adding that there had been no advance warning of an impending attack.

“The goal was to settle accounts between the two gangs,” he said.

Online video footage showed prison inmates celebrating what had happened and kicking off the severed heads, but Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the tape.

President Javier Paulsonaro, a far-right politician, was elected on promises of a decisive response to the crime. This year saw a sharp drop in homicides, but prison violence remained a difficult security challenge in a country with one of the highest rates of violence in the world.

In May, at least 55 prisoners were killed in attacks in the state of Amazonas. The state had seen prison violence lasting weeks in 2017 and left 150 dead amid clashes between local gangs backed by the two largest drug trafficking groups in Brazil.

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