RIO DE JANEIRO — Closely-armed assailants stormed a small metropolis in southeast Brazil early Monday, in a brazen operation to rob banks that included explosives, charred automobiles and hostages that have been tied to the roof of cars.

The mayhem in Araçatuba, a metropolis that’s house to some 200,000 in São Paulo state, left at the very least three individuals useless, police officers stated Monday morning. The mayor urged residents to remain house whereas police specialists sought to defuse 14 makeshift bombs that have been put in within the downtown space as a part of the assault.

Images and movies residents posted on social media confirmed a number of vehicles with hostages tied to the roof, a chilling tactic that appeared designed to forestall the police from opening fireplace on getaway automobiles.

The assault was the newest on a small metropolis in Brazil carried out by giant, well-trained teams of gunmen who’ve discovered it comparatively straightforward to overwhelm native safety forces whereas they ransack banks and companies in a single day.

“It was horrific,” the mayor of Araçatuba, Dilador Borges, stated in a televised interview early Monday, noting that the police held their fireplace as soon as they realized the robbers had tied passers-by to their vehicles. “The police didn’t come nearer as a result of they noticed the hostages. The tragedy might have been far worse.”

Capt. Alexandre Guedes, a army police official, stated the assailants planted a number of explosive gadgets across the metropolis in an obvious effort to imperil a police response. The gunmen additionally used drones to observe the police response in actual time, investigators stated.

As of 10 a.m. on Monday, authorities stated at the very least 10 of the suspected gunmen have been in custody. The three useless individuals included one suspected assailant and two residents, based on the police.

One resident had his legs amputated after he was struck by one of many gadgets, police stated. Capt. Guedes stated investigators have been attempting to find out whether or not all hostages have been launched and whether or not any gunmen stay in Araçatuba.

“We’re attempting to avoid wasting lives and to defuse these explosives,” he stated in a televised interview.

Brazilian information shops revealed photographs of financial institution branches within the metropolis that lay in ruins. However there was no estimate of how a lot the gunmen managed to steal.

The assault was harking back to two previously 12 months which have terrorized comparable small cities. Final November, gunmen stormed the town of Araraquara, additionally in São Paulo state, the place they set vehicles on fireplace in strategic areas to forestall police officers from responding successfully.

The next month, assailants opened fireplace on a police station in Criciúma, in Santa Catarina state, the place they stole roughly $15 million from a Financial institution of Brazil regional workplace.