BOA VISTA, Brazil, Oct. 17 (UPI) — At least 25 inmates were killed, including seven who were beheaded and six who were burned to death, in Brazil’s Monte Cristo Rural Penitentiary on Sunday after two rival gangs clashed.
The killings at the prison in Boa Vista, the capital of Roraima state, were preceded by a riot, prison director João Paulo Passos said, O Globo reports. About 100 relatives of prison inmates were taken hostage during the riot, according to Brazil’s Secretary of State for Justice and Citizenship, or SECJUC.
The hostages — mostly women — were released after special operations forces entered the prison at night. Inmates were armed with knives and pieces of wood.
The riot began when inmates from wing 14 of the prison broke the locks holding them during visiting hours. The rioters later broke into wing 12 where inmates of the rival gang were held and fighting began, SECJUC chief Uziel Castro said.
There are an estimated 1,400 inmates in the prison, which has an official capacity of 740. Brazil has the fourth largest prison population worldwide with about 600,000 inmates.