At least 52 people have been killed in a jail in northern Brazil today in a bloody conflict between rival gangs that left 16 decapitated, an official has confirmed.
The ‘rebellion’ began at around 7am in the Altamira Regional Recovery Center, in the northern Pará state, where gang members from one prison block invaded the prison annex and reportedly set part of it on fire.
Sixteen of the dead were decapitated in the bloody five-hour-long clash that ended around midday (3pm GMT), an official from the Para state government’s penitentiary department said.
It was the latest violence to rock the country’s overpopulated and deadly prison system.
Military police were called to the scene and negotiated with the inmates who had barricaded themselves in a cell block.
Brazilian media have reported that two prison officers were taken hostage in the conflict but were eventually freed following negotiations with civil police and the state’s Prosecutor’s Office.
Reported video of the conflict showed smoke billowing from one prison building. Another showed inmates walking on the roof of the prison, as per BBC.
The Altamira prison has a capacity of 200 inmates but was occupied by 311 prisoners, according to Brazilian News outlet G1.
Brazilian authorities have not named the two rival gangs involved in the attacks.
A fight between crime organizations would have motivated the rebellion, according to Brazilian newspaper O Globo.
However, violence in Brazilian prisons, particularly among gangs, is not uncommon.
The riot comes exactly two months after 55 people were confirmed dead in a riot in the northern Amazonas state of Brazil in May.
Monday’s battle marked the second largest prison massacre in 2019.