Image provided on Oct. 17, 2016 by the newspaper Folha de Boa Vista shows security forces guarding outside the Agricola de Monte Cristo Prison, in Boa Vista city, capital of Roraima state, Brazil on Oct. 16, 2016. Clashes between rival gangs at two prisons in northern Brazil have left at least 18 inmates dead, local media reported on Monday. (Xinhua/Folha de Boa Vista)
BRASILIA, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- Clashes between rival gangs at two prisons in northern Brazil have left at least 18 inmates dead, local media reported on Monday.
Eight inmates died from smoke inhalation early Monday after other prisoners set fire to mattresses outside their cell at a state penitentiary in Porto Velho, the capital of Rondonia state, according to Brazilian news network Globo.
That incident appeared to have been sparked by a deadlier clash on Sunday that left 10 inmates dead at the Agricola de Monte Cristo Prison in Boa Vista, capital of Roraima state.
Sunday's clash was the result of rivalry between a Sao Paulo-based criminal organization with operations across the country, First Command of the Capital, known by its Portuguese acronym PCC, and the notorious Red Command (Comando Vermelho), a Rio de Janeiro crime ring, news agency Agencia Brasil (EBC) said, citing Roraima's secretary of justice, Oziel de Castro.
"They declared war between the factions," Castro said, adding the gang rivalry has spread throughout the country.
"We are seeing the rupture of an accord between them nationwide," said Castro.
The clash on Sunday occurred during visiting hours around 4:00 p.m., leading to some 50 relatives or family members of inmates being taken hostage. They were released some four hours later, after military police intervened, the EBC said.
Agricola de Monte Cristo was built to house 700 inmates, but currently the prison houses double that number, the agency said.
Some versions of Sunday's clash said several of the dead inmates had been decapitated and others burnt.