57 dead in Brazil prison riots

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Rio de Janeiro
At least 57 inmates were killed during a prison riot in northern Brazil on Monday as rival gang factions fought each other, an official said. Sixteen of the dead were decapitated in the second major eruption of violence to rock the country’s severely overpopulated and deadly prison system in as many months.
Fighting broke out in the Altamira Regional Recovery Center at around 7:00 am (1000 GMT), an official from the Para state government’s penitentiary department told AFP. Two guards were taken hostage during the hours-long clashes, which were brought under control at around midday. The guards were eventually freed.
Brazilian TV stations showed footage of thick black smoke rising from the prison compound and people sitting on the roof of a building. Other images showed flames inside a building that almost reached the ceiling and people, apparently prisoners, sitting on the ground outside.
‘It is likely that many detainees died from asphyxiation (from smoke),’ the government official said. No firearms were found at the scene, but improvised knives appear to have been used in the turf war, according to a statement issued by the penitentiary department.—APP