At Least 52 Inmates Dead,16 Decapitated In Brazilian Prison Riot
Of the dead, 16 people are thought to have been decapitated.
The bloody incident took place on Monday (29 July) at the Altamira Regional Recovery Centre in the northern state of Pará when members of rival gangs raided an annex, breaking out of their own prison block and reportedly setting part of the facility on fire.
The clash lasted for five hours and ended at about midday local time (3pm GMT), according to a representative from the Pará state government's penitentiary department.
Violence is common within Brazil's prison system, with an overcrowded prison population leading to a large number of incidents, as well as underfunding leaving resources stretched.
Reports in local media outlet Observador suggested that gang members from Prison Block A stormed Prison Block B in order to get at members of an opposing gang. They locked a room and then set it alight, which caused many of the prisoners in the room to die of asphyxiation.
Military police then arrived and began to negotiate with the prisoners, who had barricaded themselves into the block.
It has also been reported that two prison guards were held hostage during the riots, but were safely released following the negotiations.
Smoke was reportedly seen billowing from the part of the building set on fire and inmates were spotted prowling the rooftops of the facility.
The names of the two factions involved in the fighting have not yet been released.
The prison in Altamira is built to house only 200 inmates, but was holding 311 at the time of the fighting.
Brazil has the third largest prison population in the world. The country's prison population is currently around 700,000 people and altercations between gangs happen with some regularity.
In May, violence within four different prisons in the Amazonas state city of Manaus killed 40 people. Just a day earlier, 15 people died in prison fighting in the area.
This latest outbreak of fighting is the second largest prison massacre in the country this year.
The President of Brazil, far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro, has said that he will build more prisons and introduce stricter controls within all of the country's detention facilities.
However, this could prove to be a much more difficult task than expected, as many of the prisons are controlled by the individual states rather than federally.
Featured Image Credit: G1 Para