Hostages Held in Prison Uprising

Inmates armed with makeshift knives are holding 207 people hostage at the Urso Branco State Prison in Porto Velho, Brazil. The inmates are demanding the return of “their leader” from another prison. Authorities agreed to bring him back, but both sides are currently at an impasse, as they wait for each other to make the first move. Urso Branco State Prison is the same prison where a five-day uprising was held in April 2004, which left 14 inmates dead. 170 relatives were held hostage then. This uprising began during Sunday’s visiting hours.

The “leader”, Paula de Souza, 27, is serving a 30-year sentence for murder and armed robbery. Local media is reporting that de Souza orchestrated the 2004 riot. He had escaped Urso Branco on November 24 through a tunnel he dug, but was recaptured on December 21 and sent almost immediately to the Nova Mamore prison, about 186 miles away from Urso Branco.

Of the 207 civilians being held hostage, 190 of them are women. All of them are inmates relatives. Inmates claim that they have killed at least 10 prisoners during this uprising, but so far there has been no confirmation of that claim.

There are about 1,000 inmates taking part in this rebellion, safety officials say. The prison was built to hold 350 inmates. (source)

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