Nearly 60 inmates were killed at four different prisons in the capital of Brazil’s northern Amazonas state over two days amid apparent riots, authorities said.
Officials with the state prison agency said at least 40 inmates were found at three different prisons in Manaus on Monday and they all showed signed of asphyxia.
Their deaths came just a day after 15 inmates were killed during a riot at Manaus’ Anisio Jobim Prison Complex – the same place 56 prisoners died in similar violence two years earlier.
While little information was released about Monday’s killings, local officials said prisoners began fighting among themselves before noon Sunday during visiting hours at Anisio Jobim.
They said security reinforcements were rushed in and managed to regain control within 45 minutes.
“Everyone started to run, and everyone was pounding on the cell gates, at the doors, and running down the corridors,” said Col. Marcus Vinicius, who is in charge of the prisons in the Amazonas state, according to the BBC. “It was not a rebellion, it was fighting among inmates.”
Those killed were either choked to death or stabbed with toothbrushes in front of visitors, the Independent reported.
On Monday, 25 inmates were killed at the Antonio Trindade penal institute, while six were killed at the Puraqueruara jail. Five were killed at the Provisional Detention Center for Men while four more were killed at Anisio Jobim, according to the O Globo,
Brazil’s justice and public security ministry said it was sending a federal task force to help local officials handle the situation.
"I just spoke with (Justice) Minister Sergio Moro, who is already sending a prison intervention team to the State of Amazonas, so that he can help us in this moment of crisis and a problem that is national: the problem of prisons," Amazonas state Gov. Wilson Lima said.
These incidents were not the first time violence has broken out in the city’s prisons.
In early 2017, more than 120 inmates died at the hands of other prisoners during several weeks of fighting among rival crime gang members. Many of those victims had their heads cut off or their hearts and intestines ripped out.
Several drug-trafficking and criminal gangs in Brazil run much of their day-to-day businesses from inside prisons. Authorities have not said whether gang wars were behind the latest blood-letting.
Moro had to send a federal task force to help tame violence in Ceara state in January that local officials said was ordered by crime gang leaders angered by plans to impose tighter controls in the state's prisons.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.