Criciúma, Brazil, Armed Gang Attack, Police Say

According to local reports, the military police of Santa Catarina, a state agency with a number of battalions, were called in, seeking reinforcements to confront the group.

Cristian Dimitri Andrade, commander of the military police in Criciúma, told reporters that the attackers had “several people with rifles, long guns” and “called them an organized criminal gang specializing in bank robberies”. He said two people, including a police officer, were shot dead.

“We get information from residents who send us photos and videos,” he told Engeplus, the local news agency.

The police were not able to respond immediately.

Criciúma, with a population of more than 133,000 as of 2010, is located in the state of Santa Catarina and is the center of Brazil’s ceramic and floor tile industry.

Bank robberies in Brazil, which are among the worst crimes and murders in the world, are hardly rare. In recent years, gangs have tried to dig themselves into the millions through tunnels, blew up dynamite to rob bank branches, and blow up ATMs with attempts to extract money.

In 2005, thieves rented a house a block from a bank, set up a fake gardening business, and spent three months digging a 262-foot tunnel under a beach in the seaside town of Fortaleza. They went for more than $ 50.8 million, authorities said.

In 2017, Brazilian police discovered a tunnel with electric lighting and ventilation, thwarting a planned robbery of the government-owned branch of Banco do Brasil in São Paulo. Sixteen suspects were arrested.

Yan Zhuang contributed to the report.