Dozens more killed in new prison unrest

At least 33 inmates have been killed by their rivals at a prison in northern Brazil, just days after a similar riot by warring gangs erupted at other prisons.

Yesterday’s statement from the justice secretary said the prisoners died overnight at the Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo in the northern state of Roraima.

The violence did not appear to be an all-out riot but rather a rapid early morning attack by one group of inmates against another, lasting less than an hour, a local government spokeswoman told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Most of the killings were carried out with knives, she said. No firearms have been found inside the prison so far.

“Authorities in northern Brazil are saying the situation is now under control and that no body escaped in this occasion,” Daniel Schweimler, reporting from the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, said.

A police statement said officers, including a heavily armed military-like riot squad, had been deployed to the Monte Cristo prison. The apparent bloodshed comes just days after rebellions in other two prisons left 60 dead in the neighbouring state of Amazonas.

One institution suffered the country’s worst prison bloodshed since 1992, with half of the 56 slain beheaded and several others also dismembered.

In another of the riots, four prisoners died.

A total of 184 inmates escaped from Amazonas prisons in the disturbances. As of Thursday afternoon, only 65 had been recaptured.

Authorities say that in Amazonas, the local Family of the North gang attacked members of Sao Paulo-based First Command, Brazil’s biggest criminal organisation.

The gangs are believed to be fighting for the control of prisons and drug routes in the northern part of the country, which borders Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and the Guianas.

Brazil has the fourth largest prison population behind the United States, China and Russia.

Horrific conditions and inter-gang violence are seen in many facilities, some of which are essentially run by drug gang leaders who continue to run their criminal enterprises on the outside despite being locked up.

In October, a riot at the Agricultural Penitentiary of Monte Cristo, the same where disturbances were reported yesterday, left 18 dead.

— Al Jazeera

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