Dozen killed, including six hostages, in foiled Brazil bank assaults
Twelve people, including six hostages, were killed in northeast Brazil yesterday after police foiled a gang of armed robbers staging a simultaneous predawn assault on two banks in Milagres, a municipality in the state of Ceará, the officials said.
Five of the dead hostages were members of the same family and included two children, said the local mayor Lielson Landim.
Brazil: Dozen killed in foiled bank assaults
Investigation underway to identify deceased, circumstances of their deaths
The family was returning from the airport when the robbers seized them. The secretary for security in the state of Ceara, Andre Costa, said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out to identify all those killed and the circumstances of their deaths.
Criminals killed hostages, police killed criminals, says local mayor
Costa didn't say whose bullets killed the hostages.
Landim had earlier said that, based on initial information, "the criminals killed the hostages and police killed the criminals".
Meanwhile, Costa's state security secretariat said, "A heavily armed group arrived in the town and went to the center where they tried to commit the crime. There was an exchange of fire between the suspects and police."
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The gang launched the assaults on two banks simultaneously
Six gang-members were killed and "another six people died from gunshots". Weapons, explosives, and three vehicles used in bank assaults were recovered, said the statement. The gang launched a simultaneous assault on two banks on the same street in Milagres, with a population of 28,000.
I heard people yelling and crying, local recalls horror
The robbers had reportedly blocked the street with a truck and stopped the car carrying the family, which included relatives who had just arrived from Sao Paulo to celebrate Christmas.
The robbers "executed" the hostages when police turned up to prevent their operation. Some of the gang also managed to escape.
A local recalled the horror, saying, "I heard people yelling and crying."
Brazil suffers a homicide rate of 30.8% per 100,000 inhabitants
The municipality of Milagres suspended most of its activities yesterday and asked residents to stay at home "until the order is restored".
Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world, suffering nearly 64,000 murders last year, a homicide rate of 30.8% per 100,000 inhabitants that is three times higher than the level the United Nations considers to be endemic violence.