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Brazil police kill three robbers during dramatic airport heist

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(Reuters) – Brazilian police on Thursday shot dead three armed robbers after they broke into an international airport cargo terminal and fled with cash, shooting at security guards and police in the process, local authorities said.

Two of the men were killed while fleeing the Viracopos International Airport in the city of Campinas, near Sao Paulo, while the third ran to a house and took a family hostage.

A sniper killed the armed man later on Thursday afternoon and the family was freed unharmed, police said.

Two private security guards were shot and injured in the robbery but remain alive.

At least one of the cars used by the armed men was disguised as an airforce car that would routinely have access to the airport.

The incident is at least the second spectacular robbery to take place in a major Brazilian airport this year.

In July, armed men also driving a car disguised as an official vehicle broke into Guarulhos airport, the country’s largest. They pointed rifles at security guards and left with $40 million worth of gold. The incident was recorded by security footage with those men also claiming to have taken hostages.

The Viracopos airport targeted in Thursday’s robbery is a growing international hub and the principal base for airline Azul SA <AZUL.N>.

Azul said the airport was closed for 20 minutes and that some flights had been delayed in the wake of the incident. But by Thursday afternoon operations had returned to normal.

(Reporting by Leonardo Benassatto and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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