Are prison guards armed

21 dead in attempted prison break in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro - At least 21 people were killed in an attempted prison break in northern Brazil on Tuesday. An "extremely heavily armed group" supported the attempted breakout, said the security authorities of the Para state. The dead came in clashes with the police.

Prisoners in the detention center near the city of Belem also had weapons at their disposal. They were supported by the armed group outside the prison that used explosive devices. An attempt was made to blow up a wall.

"Intense exchange of fire"

According to the security authorities, the prison guards tried to repel the attack with firearms. It was said that there was an "intense exchange of fire". A special police unit had arrived to reinforce the situation.

Among the dead were reportedly 20 prisoners and attackers from outside as well as a prison guard. Five other guards were injured, one seriously.

The authorities said it was being checked whether prisoners had managed to leave the prison. Two rifles and five handguns had been seized.

727,000 prisoners

There are around 60,000 homicides per year in Brazil and the prisons are notoriously overcrowded. Violence in prisons is not uncommon. According to the latest official statistics from 2016, there were almost 727,000 inmates in Brazilian prisons at the time. However, there was only capacity for 368,000.

Power struggles between rival drug gangs are often shifted from the streets to prison. One of the bloodiest prison riots in 2017 in Manaus in the Amazon region killed 56 people.

Prison Authority Warning

The police are also constantly under fire. She is accused of undermining the right to be responsible for extrajudicial executions and falsification of evidence and of not investigating crimes committed by her own officials.

According to information from February, the Santa Izabel detention center now affected last had 660 inmates, with a maximum capacity of 432 inmates. A report by the prison authorities had warned in February of the risk of trying to escape with outside assistance. In November 2017, 14 prisoners had fled the Santa Izabel Asylum. Another attempt to escape in January failed. (APA, April 11, 2018)