April 10 (UPI) — At least 20 people were killed during a mass breakout from a Brazil prison on Tuesday.
One guard and 19 prisoners were confirmed dead in the incident as guards clashed with prisoners and people from outside the prison helping in the breakout attempt at the Santa Izabel Prison Complex in the northern city of Belem.
The Secretariat of Public Security and Social Defense of Para said in a statement a group of prisoners began the escape attempt by starting a riot and kidnapping six security guards as accomplices outside the prison walls attacked the prison gates with explosives.
The Para state security service said the fighting was as intense as warfare, the BBC reported.
Officials said they are investigating whether any prisoners escaped.
Brazil has been the scene for several deadly prison riots in recent years.
In January, at least nine prisoners were killed when rival gangs clashed in a the state of Goiania.
Last year, dozens of prisoners were killed — some by decapitation — during a prison riot in Alcaçuz.