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9 held by gang after robbery in southern Brazil

9 held by gang after robbery in southern Brazil

Hundreds of police officers, sniffer dogs and a helicopter combed a wooded area in southern Brazil in search of nine people taken hostage by a criminal game in an assault early Sunday on a jewelry workshop, local officials said.
The top security official in Rio Grande do Sul state, Airton Michels, told Radio Gaucha it was thought the criminals might have split up, taking small groups of hostages in separate directions. He added that the hilly and sparsely populated terrain has made the search more difficult.
Brazilian news reports say the standoff began early Sunday morning when gang members used explosives to blow off the door of a jewelry factory in the town of Cotipora.
Police responded with firepower, killing three of the gang members, including the most wanted criminal in the state, 31-year-old Elisandro Falcao, said the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.
Those remaining fled the factory, taking people picked up near the factory as hostages. G1, the Internet portal of the Globo TV network, said the hostages included seven members of the same family, as well as two women taken from a bar near the workshop.
The G1 report said the criminals took several bags of jewels from the factory, one of which was later seized by police. Two police officers were slightly injured in the standoff at the factory, the report said.
Rio Grande do Sul Governor Tarso Genro said the hostages' safety is the top priority of the search.
"The commandos must act very calmly," Genro told Radio Gaucha.
Falcao, among the criminals killed in the assault, was wanted for allegedly heading a gang that has staged attacks on armored vehicles using explosives.


Updated : 2021-05-12 22:24 GMT+08:00