At least 12 dead in 2 bank heists in northeast Brazil

Hostages, robbers killed in foiled bank heists in Brazil

A shootout between police and bank robbers attempting to blow up ATMs has killed 14 people, including six hostages.

Military police in the state of Ceara say the attempted heists began on Friday at around 2.30am in the downtown area of the city of Milagres.

Landin said "the criminals killed the hostages, and police killed the criminals".

The G1 news website, quoting Milagres Mayor Lielson Landim, reported that the five dead hostages belonged to the same family.

However, a spokeswoman for the state governor said that 12 people had died, including six police officers.

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According to Andre Costa, secretary of security affairs in Caera, two suspects in the attempted robberies were arrested.

G1 reported that the robbers "executed" the hostages when police turned up.

His account could not be immediately verified, as police did not respond to numerous email and phone requests for more information about the shootout or how the hostages died. Landim told Globo newspaper that the family members were taken from a vehicle that was forced to stop because the robbers had blocked a road with a truck, according to BBC News. Ceara is one of the country's most violent states. The robbers could not take any money out of the two banks. "I stayed inside my home, cowering and afraid", a local resident, Mendonca de Santa Helena, told media.

"I heard screaming and people crying", he added.

Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the world, suffering almost 64,000 murders a year ago - a homicide rate of 30.8 per 100,000 inhabitants that is three times higher than the level the United Nations considers to be endemic violence.

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