30 die in attack on Brazil police, prisons rebel
Sao Paulo (Brazil), May 14: Overnight gang attacks on Brazilian police in Sao Paulo left 30 people dead by early yesyerday morning and in a related occurrence the number of prison rebellions is growing in the worst outbreak of violence in the state in years.
''This attack is an attempt to show force and principally to mess with the sense of safety among the population,'' Saulo de Abreu, the secretary of security of Sao Paulo state, said. ''The police will not retreat from these attacks.'' He said 16 people had been arrested for alleged participation in the attacks.
A spokesman at the secretariat said the roughly 12 hours of attacks with machine guns and grenades were believed to be related to a transfer in the jails of organised crime leaders of the First Command of the Capital gang, known as the PCC in Portuguese.
The gang leaders were being transferred in an attempt to head off a coordinated rebellion in the Sao Paulo state prison system planned for Mothers Day weekend.
Two prison rebellions in the cities of Iaras and Avare broke out yesterday in Sao Paulo state with over 25 hostages between them, the secretariat of penitentiary administration said. They are ongoing.
The secretariat said there were also signs that rebellions were breaking out in 20 other prisons across the state, including Araraquara and Ribeirao Preto, but it was waiting for more details.
''Evidently these rebellions are occurring as a response from the criminals,'' Secretary of Penitentiary Administration Nagashi Furukawa said. The secretariat said prisoners had made no demands at this moment.
In February of 2001, 29 prisons in the state of Sao Paulo simultaneously broke out into revolt, leaving 19 dead.
Officials said there were 55 separate attacks on police, firemen, penitentiary staff and their families since last evening and several other potentially related incidences of violence in the state were being investigated.
By midday today, 16 police, three civil guards, four off-duty penitentiary agents, two civilians and five bandits had been killed in the attacks. The state secretary of security had said earlier today that 32 people were wounded in the shootouts.
Local TV footage showed scenes of shattered glass, bullet-hole-riddled police cars and stations with puddles of blood in seats and on the pavement.