Prison rebellion sweeps Brazil

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The Independent US

A wave of riots swept across prisons in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo yesterday, a local government spokesman said, in what may be the biggest rebellion in the country's penal system.

A wave of riots swept across prisons in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo yesterday, a local government spokesman said, in what may be the biggest rebellion in the country's penal system.

A spokesman for the Sao Paulo government's public security office said rebellions were going on in 14 prisons across the south eastern state, including Latin America's biggest prison, Carandiru, where inmates had taken guards and visitors hostage.

About 1,000 hostages were being held by prisoners in Carandiru, but the figure had not been confirmed, the spokesman said. Police were at the scene and there were no immediate reports of violence or injuries, he said.

"There have been no escapes at this stage," the spokesman added. "The government is not negotiating."

Carandiru, which is north of Sao Paulo, was the scene of the country's bloodiest prison rebellion in 1992 when 111 inmates were shot to death as police stormed the penitentiary. Prison rebellions are common in Brazil where poor treatment of inmates andfilthy and overcrowded conditions often erupt in violence. A congressional commission recently described Brazil's prison system as a "reinvention of hell".

Globo TV said hundreds of hostages, including 45 prison guards, and friends and relatives of inmates who were visiting the prison for the day, were being held by the nearly 8,000 inmates at Carandiru.

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