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9 killed in Brazil prison riot

October 10, 2013

SAO PAULO (AP) — A riot in an overcrowded prison in northeastern Brazil left nine inmates dead and 20 injured, officials said Thursday.

Maranhao state officials earlier placed the death toll at least 10 and said 30 inmates had been injured in the uprising that broke out Wednesday night. But a statement posted Thursday on the government’s website lowered those numbers.

Maranhao state Public Safety chief Aluisio Mendes told reporters the uprising began Wednesday night when guards discovered a tunnel that was to be used by 60 inmates to escape from the Pedrinhas Penitentiary in the state capital of Sao Luis.

He said prisoners set fire to mattresses to prevent guards from entering the cell where the entrance of the tunnel was located.

In the confusion, rival prison gangs started settling scores, attacking each other with makeshift knives and iron bars.

Authorities quelled the uprising early Thursday morning.