July 29 (UPI) — A prison riot in the northern Brazilian state of Para left 52 people dead Monday, including 16 people who were decapitated, authorities said.
The rioting prisoners at the Altamira Regional Recovery Center also took two prison guards as hostages and later released them. Authorities brought the altercation under control in the afternoon, officials with the Penitentiary System of Para said.
Officials blamed the violence on a dispute between rival gangs at the prison. Prisoners set fire to the facility, causing some inmates to die from asphyxiation.
There’s been an increase in prison violence in recent months in Brazil. In May, riots at four prisons in Amazonas state left 57 people dead. Rival drug gangs caused those altercations.
Critics blame the government for the violence, saying overcrowding at the country’s prisons have incited discord among the inmates. President Jair Bolsonaro pledged to build more prisons and increase security at the facilities.