Brazil prison riot leaves at least 18 dead


A prison riot in northern Brazil has left at least 18 inmates dead after fighting broke out between rival gangs.

Several victims were reportedly decapitated by cell mates and their heads thrown out of the windows.

The rebellion, which has now ended, erupted on Monday at the jail in the state of Maranhao when a group of prisoners wrestled a gun off a guard and went on the rampage.

Inmates had demanded better conditions in the overcrowded jail.

Guards released

Prisoners at the Pedrinhas prison in Sao Luis, the capital of Maranhao, overpowered and shot a guard during an inspection on Monday. He and five other guards were taken hostage.

The wounded guard was freed on Monday and taken to hospital, where he was said to be stable. The other guards were released unharmed on Tuesday.

State secretary for security Aluisio Guimarares told Agence France-Presse news agency that police had retaken control of the prison and restored calm.

There are frequent riots in Brazilian prisons, which are often overcrowded.

The Pedrinhas prison was built to house 2,000 men but currently holds about 4,000.

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