At least 56 inmates died during a prison riot in the northern state of Amazonas, reports the AP, including several who were beheaded or dismembered, in the biggest killing at a Brazilian prison since 1992. Authorities said the riot apparently grew out of a fight between two of the country's biggest crime gangs over control of prisons and drug routes in northern Brazil. Amazonas state public security secretary Sergio Fontes said that some inmates escaped from the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Complex in Manaus, but he did not say how many. He said 40 had been recaptured. Twelve prison guards were held hostage, though all were unscathed during the riot that began Sunday afternoon and ended Monday morning. "This is the biggest prison massacre in our state's history," Fontes said. "What happened here is another chapter of the war that narcos are waging on this country and it shows that this problem cannot be tackled only by state governments."
Fontes confirmed that many of the dead had been beheaded and Judge Luis Carlos Valois, who negotiated the end of the riot with inmates, said he saw many bodies that were quartered. "I never saw anything like that in my life. All those bodies, the blood," Valois wrote. Two other prisons in Manaus also reported riots on Monday. In one, 87 prisoners escaped, including one that posted a picture of him on Facebook as he left. Amazonas police are investigating whether there is a link between the incidents in the three prisons. By Monday afternoon Amazonas state police said the situation had become stable in all three prisons. Fontes said the inmates made few demands to end the riot, which hints at a killing spree organized by members of a local gang, the Family of the North, against those of the First Command of the Capital that is based in Sao Paulo. (Read more prison riot stories.)