Brazil: Armed robbers ‘strap people on car roofs’ as human shields as they hit several banks in Aracatub | World News
Armed robbers attacked three banks in a Brazilian city after taking hostages, allegedly strapping them to car roofs as human shields and leaving a trail of explosives to prevent a pursuit, authorities said.
The robbers shot and killed a police officer in a shootout that killed at least three people in Aracatuba, a small town in the state of Sao Paulo.
More than 20 heavily armed men carried out the attack with 10 cars, Sao Paulo Military Police Executive Secretary Alvaro Camilo said.
Military police said in a statement that the criminals had used nearby residents as human shields. According to local media reports, the hostages were tied to getaway cars. The criminals also burned cars and left a number of explosive booby traps in the city as they fled.
The gang also used drones to monitor the streets as they entered the area and broke into banks, the statement added.
Two of the dead were civilians and one of the alleged attackers was also killed. A spectator had to have his leg amputated after being injured in an explosion, authorities said.
Camilo urged people not to leave their homes until all explosives have been found and deactivated.
He added that there were more than 350 police officers in the city who used two helicopters to track down the perpetrators.
The attack took place around midnight and is the latest in a series of increasingly violent bank robberies in Brazil. Experts have said a COVID-19 pandemic welfare program for poorer people has encouraged robbers to plan more attacks as banks hold more money.
In December, two similar bank robberies also took place on consecutive days in Cameta and Cricuma, targeting Banco do Brasil branches.