Hostages among 12 dead in Brazil bank robbery shootout

SAO PAULO – At least 12 people were killed on Friday, including six policemen, in a shootout between police and bank robbers in a small town in northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará, the state governor’s office said.

Lielson Landin, mayor of the northeast city of Milagres, said six robbers had attacked two banks just after 2am on Friday.

Police interrupted a gang trying to rob ATMs at two bank branches on the main street in Milagres in the interior of Ceará state.

Five of the hostages, including two children, were in a car hijacked by the robbers as they tried to flee the scene.

Details on the sixth hostage are unclear but it was thought that he had also been near the road.

The robbers reportedly killed the hostages when police approached.

The G1 news website reported that the five dead hostages belonged to the same family. Their car had been hijacked on a nearby highway and taken into town by the armed gang.

Broadcaster GloboNews said it was the family of a local businessman and that two suspects had been arrested by police.

Six other people also died in the gun battle in the city of Milagres, reports say. It is not clear if they were robbers or police officers.

The head of the Secretariat of Public Security and Social Defense Andre Costa told Diario de Nordeste that all the .

Police were searching for gang members with the help of a helicopter, the mayor’s office said.