Brazilian police shoot dead 25 bank robbery suspects

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Brazilian Police

Suspects killed in ‘historic clean-up’ by Brazilian police

Authorities have hailed an ‘unprecedented offensive’ against a group of heavily armed bank robbers as they were shot dead by Brazilian police. The crimes committed by the gang had brought major cities to a standstill. Police claimed they had been ready to launch another attack when they were surprised by officers in a coordinated raid. The alleged criminals were shot dead in the early hours of the morning in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais. 

The local O Tempo newspaper reported that the killings took place at two farmhouses in Varginha, a city about 245 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro. The police involved with the mission said the group had “a veritable military arsenal”, including assault rifles, .50-caliber machine guns, explosives and bulletproof vests. 

Layla Brunella, the spokesperson for Minas Gerais’s military police force, said the alleged robbers belonged to Brazil’s “modern-day cangaço” – a reference to the bands of outlaws who roamed the country’s north-eastern backlands in the early 20th century under the leadership of a highwayman called Lampião. These gangs have been responsible for raids in Brazil in recent years, mainly targeting banks. 

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In December 2020, the city of Cricuma was overrun by the gangsters as they blew up a bank, kidnapped government employees, and had a two-hour gun battle in the streets. In August of this year, black-clad criminals robbed banks before fleeing with hostages strapped to the roofs of their cars. 

According to Brazilian police, a similar attack was being planned by the people they shot down. Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro has many supporters who were today celebrating the shooting.  “Today [the police] carried out a historic clean-up,” tweeted Junio Amaral, a police captain turned congressman. Bolsonaro himself declared that criminals should “die in the street like cockroaches” shortly after he was elected, and promised protection for “upstanding citizens” who shot suspects.


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