At least 52 dead after riot in Brazil prison

52 killed as prison gangs riot & decapitate rivals in Brazil (VIDEO)

Extremely graphic footage shared online purportedly filmed inside the prison shows men kicking and tossing several severed heads around as bodies lie prone nearby.

In January 2017, almost 150 prisoners died during three weeks of violence in several prisons as local gangs backed by Brazil's two largest drug factions attacked one another.

"Brazilian policymakers have typically responded to the prison crisis by building more prisons, stiffening penalties, and separating gang leaders from the rank and file", said Robert Muggah, research director at the Igarape Institute, a think tank in Rio de Janeiro.

Two prison officers, held hostage, were released.

Other images showed flames inside a building that nearly reached the ceiling and people, apparently prisoners, sitting on the ground outside.

Doors in the block were allegedly locked by the invading criminals and preliminary reports indicates that inmates set fire to mattresses.

"It is likely that many detainees died from asphyxiation (from smoke)", the government official said, adding that the death toll could rise. In May, at least 15 inmates were found dead, choked to death or stabbed with toothbrushes in the city of Manaus. Guards had apparently prevented an attempted escape.

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A body was found two kilometers from the burning vehicle , which was identified as not being either of the missing teens. It has not been identified but police comprise not accept as true with it belongs to the missing younger men.

The prison has a capacity of 208 but is reported to be overcrowded with 372 inmates.

The population is double the capacity of the nation's prisons, which in the same year was estimated to be 368,049 inmates.

In May, 55 inmates were killed in gang-related riots at four prisons in western Brazil.

Brazil has the third largest prison population in the world.

Originally formed to protect inmates and advocate for better conditions, Brazil's prison gangs are now involved in bank heists, drug trafficking and gun-running, with jailed kingpins presiding over their empires via smuggled cellphones.

Experts estimate hundreds of people are killed in prison violence every year in Brazil.

The clashes pose a challenge to the new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, but could also end up giving his approval rating a boost as he is seen as tough on crime and has previously vowed to crack down on criminal gangs and prison violence.

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