Brazil police chase inmates off jail roof after killings

Inmates stand on the prison roof during a rebellion in Alcacuz jail in Brazil, on Jan 16, 2017.
Inmates stand on the prison roof during a rebellion in Alcacuz jail in Brazil, on Jan 16, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

NATAL, Brazil (AFP) - Brazilian police Monday (Jan 16) cleared dozens of inmates from the roof of a jail struck by the latest in a string of prison massacres.

Authorities thought inmates at the Alcacuz jail near the northeastern city of Natal were under control following the quelling of a deadly riot that broke out Saturday, until some climbed to the roof on Monday.

An AFP video reporter filmed the inmates standing with flags on the partly destroyed red tile roof.


In the early afternoon, police entered the prison and made the inmates come down, AFP reporters at the scene said.

On Sunday, police had stormed the prison and ended a night-long riot. They found 26 prisoners dead, most of them beheaded, officials said.

It was the third major massacre to hit Brazil’s overcrowded jails this month, all of them thought to involve suspected drug gangs.

Officials said two rival gangs clashed in the overcrowded Natal jail.

Separately, the state government said prisoners rioted early on Monday morning at another jail in the Raimundo Nonato prison, also in Natal.

No one was hurt or escaped in that riot, which was quelled by police, it said.

Gruesome violence at a prison in the northwestern city of Manaus killed about 60 inmates on Jan 1. Many prisoners were beheaded and mutilated.

A further 33 died in a riot in Roraima state on Jan 6.

The Natal massacre which erupted on Saturday raised fears that the wave of violence could spread across the country.

President Michel Temer said on Twitter that the federal government stood ready to provide “all assistance necessary.” At Alcacuz, security forces surrounded the prison after violence broke out but had to wait until first light Sunday to storm the site with armoured vehicles, officials said.

Prisoners had cut off the electricity and were said to have firearms.

The prison was built for a maximum of 620 inmates but currently houses 1,083, the state justice department said.

The riot was thought to have been a clash between Brazil’s biggest drug gang, the First Capital Command, and a group allied to its main rival Red Command, Brazilian media said.

Experts say the violence is part of a war between drug gangs battling for control of one of the world’s most important cocaine markets and trafficking routes.

After the two riots earlier this month, Temer announced the federal government would spend US$250 million (S$357 million) to build new prisons.