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  • Members of the Police Special Operations Battalion (BOPE, in Portuguese) take the Alcacuz Prison facilities in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte state, Brazil.

    Members of the Police Special Operations Battalion (BOPE, in Portuguese) take the Alcacuz Prison facilities in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte state, Brazil. | Photo: EFE

Brazil's prisons are under fire after violent deaths and jailbreaks early this year compounded the habitual problems of overcrowding and insecurity.

Brazil's government said Wednesday it was enlisting the help of the armed forces in resolving a serious crisis in the nation's prisons, where more than 130 inmates have been killed in gang clashes since the start of the year.

A total of 1,000 soldiers will be available as required by the nation's 27 governors to serve at state penitentiaries, which are under fire after violent deaths and jailbreaks early this year compounded the habitual problems of overcrowding and insecurity.

The death toll in the latest prison riot in a jail in northwest Brazil rose to at least 26 on Monday after a fight broke out between rival gangs Saturday in the middle of a national prison management crisis and growing fears over the consequences of the country's overcrowded prisons.

At least three prisoners were decapitated inside the Alcazuz prison, in the city of Natal, the largest in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The center officially has capacity for 620 inmates, but currently holds 1,100.

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