RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – A large gang of heavily armed bank robbers stormed the Brazilian town of Cameta just a day after a similar force struck another medium-sized town on the other side of the country, taking over residents held hostage as they looted a bank.
The Para State Secretariat of Public Security said in a statement on Wednesday that more than 20 criminals armed with assault rifles attacked a branch of the State Bank of Brazil in the city of the region overnight. Amazonian.
Neither the bank nor officials immediately said how much money could have been stolen.
A video on social media showed a line of about a dozen hostages being taken out of a square in Cameta, a town of 140,000 residents, and gunshots rang out through the night. Local media reported that a military police station was attacked, preventing officers from responding.
“They drove around to shoot at the police and at the houses. It was a horrible scene to watch, ”said Junior Gaia, who lives nearby, in an interview with Globo News television channel. “We were all lying on the ground, afraid they would invade the houses.”
The coordinated attack came a day after a similar overnight robbery at a Bank of Brazil branch in the southern region of Brazil. In the town of Criciuma, dozens of gunmen armed with assault rifles stormed the town and took hostages as they used explosives to rob a bank.
As in Cameta, they took steps to hinder the police intervention and fired in the air, apparently to scare people and keep them in their homes.
The thefts took place in early December, when bank coffers are full in anticipation of employees withdrawing their end-of-year bonuses, according to Cássio Thyone, board member of the Brazilian nonprofit Security Forum. public. Many Brazilians receive an additional month’s salary in December, called the 13th salary.
“It doesn’t happen without planning,” Thyone told The Associated Press by phone. “It’s another demonstration that everything is planned. They think about where and when. ”
The Bank of Brazil said in a statement that it was collaborating with police investigations and had yet to begin assessing structural damage at its branch. Images posted by online media G1 showed the open facade and shards of glass littering the floor.
In Cameta, tactical forces as well as police officers from other regions were dispatched to reinforce the police. Authorities located the abandoned criminals’ truck and found explosive devices there, according to the security secretariat.
Two people were shot dead, including a hostage, a young man, who was killed. The other was hospitalized with a leg injury.
The mayor of Cameta, Waldoli Valente, offered his condolences to the victim on Facebook.
“Our city has always been peaceful and I ask everyone to stay at home,” he wrote around 2:30 am Wednesday. ___ AP author Marcelo Silva de Sousa contributed to this report