Hostages die in foiled Brazil bank robberies

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At least five hostages, including a child, have died as armed police battled robbers who had tried to raid two banks in north-east Brazil.

Six robbers also died when police engaged them in a gun battle in the city of Milagres, reports say.

The mayor of Milagres, in Ceara state, said the hostages were killed by their captors as police moved in.

Two suspected robbers were also arrested in the operation, Brazilian media reported.

Four of the hostages, including the child, were all from the same family, city mayor Lielson Landim told Radio Band News.

According to initial reports, police surprised the robbers in the early hours of the morning and engaged them in a shootout. The gang then fled, grabbing the hostages on their way.

Some media reports put the death toll at 13.

Mr Landim, quoted by Brazil’s Globo newspaper, said the gang had blocked a road with a truck and seized the family from a vehicle that was forced to stop.

“The criminals killed the hostages and the police killed the criminals,” he added.

Security officials said police had seized guns and explosives used by the gang. Three vehicles had been used in the attempted robberies on two bank branches, they added.

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