31 Dec 2012

Hostages from failed robbery in Brazil rescued

9:06 pm on 31 December 2012

Police in southern Brazil say they've rescued nine hostages who had been taken by an armed gang after an attempt to rob a gem-cutting plant.

The authorities say the gang had terrorised the region, using explosives to rob banks, cash point machines and shops.

The BBC reports it's not clear whether the fugitive gang members have been arrested.

The alleged leader of the gang, Elisandro Falcao, had earlier been killed in a shootout with police.

They were found 5km away from the location where they were abducted on Saturday night.

The heavily armed gang began its attempted heist in Cotipora at 02:00 local time.

They had been under police surveillance for months.

Police said the robbers used dynamite to blow open the doors of the factory but were confronted by police as they made their escape.

Alleged gang leader Elisandro Falcao and two other men were killed in a shootout with police.

As they made their escape, the surviving attackers split into two groups.

One abducted two people who were in a bar and the other broke into a home and took away seven people, including a child.

Police say they have recovered part of the loot, but gave no figure for its value.