16 beheadings as gangs clash in Altamira jail, Brazil

At least 57 people were killed during a five-hour riot and battle between rival gangs in a Brazilian prison yesterday. Sixteen of them had their heads cut off.

Violence broke out when gang members from one wing of the Altamira prison in Para state in northern Brazil invaded another section of the jail, where a rival group was detained. Video footage showed one of the prisoners kicking a severed head across the floor as if it were a football.

Jarbas Vasconcelos, the chief superintendent of prisons in Para state, said that the battle had pitted members of the local Class A Command (CCA) gang, against inmates from Comando Vermelho, one of the oldest criminal groups in Brazil, founded in Rio de Janeiro. He said the violence had been instigated by the CCA gang, who attacked the Comando Vermelho prisoners just after cells were unlocked so that inmates could go for breakfast.

Clouds of smoke could be seen billowing from one wing after mattresses were set on fire. Some inmates died of smoke inhalation.

Two prison guards were taken hostage but were later freed.

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