SAO PAULO – Three buses, one of them with passengers aboard, were set ablaze during the night in Sao Luiz, capital of the northern state of Maranhao, as a reprisal for the occupation since last Dec. 27 of the Pedrinhas penitentiary complex by the Brazilian Militarized Police, officials said Saturday.
“We’re going to speed up the investigation to find out who carried out the attacks. The order was given inside the prison, but whoever carried them out are on the loose and we’re going to find them. Since yesterday we’ve had more police in the streets,” the security secretary of Maranhao, Aluisio Mendes, told reporters.
On Friday night, three urban buses were set on fire in poor neighborhoods of Sao Luiz, and a police station was attacked with gunshots.
A 6-year-old girl who was inside one of the buses is in grave condition at the Clementino Moura Municipal Hospital, whose medical staff said that her mother and baby sister had suffered slight burns, while a male passenger is in the hospital with similar injuries.
The attacks occurred a day after two inmates were killed in the Pedrinhas jail, the largest in the state, where last year most of the 60 deaths of prisoners in Maranhao took place, three of them by decapitation, according to the National Council of Justice, or CNJ.
According to Maranhao prison officials, there are currently 2,196 inmates in the penitentiary complex, which has a capacity for only 1,770.