At least 31 inmates have been killed at a prison in Brazil in what is believed to be a revenge attack. Many were decapitated, with their hearts cut out.
Initially said to be 33, the death toll was later revised down.
The deaths in Monte Cristo Rural Penitentiary in the northern state of Roraima are being blamed on a drug gang, which is said to have been targeted in a separate prison massacre that killed 56 five days earlier.
The 17-hour riot in Manaus has been labelled the deadliest prison uprising in Brazil in years. Some 87 prisoners escaped. Forty have since been recaptured, officials say.
Brazil’s Justice Minister, Alexandre de Moraes, said:
“The situation isn’t out of control. It is yet another difficult situation. There had already been problems at Roraima before, which happened during the second half of last year.”
He attributed the attack to members of the First Capital Command gang, who are, authorities say, trying to prove their power within Roraima’s Monte Cristo prison.
State officials said elite forces brought the situation under control.
Brazilian newspaper O Globo reports the Roraima prison was housing over 1,400 prisoners, which is double its capacity.
Riots in the jail are nothing new. At least ten people died in violence last October alone.
The Brazilian government announced a security overhaul plan for prisons on Thursday (January 5). Five new, high-security jails are outlined in the plan.