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'Well-prepared' robbers seize Brazilian city, loot bank

Dozens of criminals armed with assault rifles invaded a city in southern Brazil overnight and took control of the streets as they launched an assault against a local bank branch.

Well-prepared robbers seize Brazilian city, loot bank

Video from residents that was broadcast on the Globo television network showed hooded men dressed in black walking the streets of Criciúma, in the state of Santa Catarina, and locals being held hostage. Shots rang out across the city. There were roughly 30 criminals in about 10 cars, and they blocked access points to the city to prevent police reinforcements from responding swiftly, the network reported.

The takeover began around midnight and lasted roughly two hours. Images on Globo showed a bank vault with a square-shaped hole in it and a convoy of criminals' vehicles as they made their escape. Bills were scattered across the ground in one area of the city. Mayor Clésio Salvaro took to Twitter while the terror was still unfolding to warn locals of the “robbery of great proportions, by very well-prepared thieves.” “As mayor of Criciúma, I ask that you stay home, don't leave home, exercise all precaution,” Salvaro said in a video he posted just before 2 a.m. local time.

“Tell your friends and families. Let the police do their job.” Two injuries were reported during the robbery. The city has a population of about 220,000.

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