Gang of thieves tie hostages to cars in Brazilian town

RIO DE JANEIRO – Heavily armed assailants stormed a small town in southeastern Brazil early Monday, in a brazen operation to rob banks i...

RIO DE JANEIRO – Heavily armed assailants stormed a small town in southeastern Brazil early Monday, in a brazen operation to rob banks including explosives, charred vehicles and hostages who have summer attached to the roof of cars.

Chaos in Araçatuba, a city that is home to some 200,000 people in the state of São Paulo, has left at least three people dead, police officials said Monday morning. The mayor urged residents to stay at home as police experts seek to defuse 14 makeshift bombs that were planted in the city center as part of the assault.

Photos and videos posted by residents on social media showed several cars with hostages strapped to the roof, a frightening tactic that appeared designed to prevent police from opening fire on getaway vehicles.

The attack was the latest on a small town in Brazil carried out by large groups of well-trained gunmen who found it relatively easy to overwhelm local security forces as they ransacked banks and businesses during the night.

“It was horrible,” Araçatuba mayor Dilador Borges said in a television interview Monday morning, noting that police held fire once they realized thieves had tied passers-by to their cars. . “The police did not approach because they saw the hostages. The tragedy could have been much worse.

Captain Alexandre Guedes, a military police official, said the attackers placed several explosive devices around the town with the apparent aim of jeopardizing a police response. The gunmen also used drones to monitor the police response in real time, investigators said.

At 10 a.m. on Monday, authorities said at least 10 of the suspected gunmen were in custody. The three people who died included a suspected assailant and two residents, police said.

A resident had his legs amputated after being struck by one of the devices, police said. Captain Guedes said investigators were trying to determine whether all the hostages have been released and whether there are any gunmen left in Araçatuba.

“We are trying to save lives and defuse these explosives,” he said in a television interview.

Brazilian media published photos of bank branches in the ruined city. But there was no estimate of how much the gunmen managed to steal.

The assault recalled two from last year that terrorized similar small towns. Last November, gunmen stormed the city of Araraquara, also in São Paulo state, where they set fire to cars in strategic locations to prevent the police from responding effectively.

The following month, assailants opened fire on a police station in Criciúma, Santa Catarina state, where they stole around $ 15 million from a regional Bank of Brazil office.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Gang of thieves tie hostages to cars in Brazilian town
Gang of thieves tie hostages to cars in Brazilian town
Newsrust - US Top News
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