RIO DE JANEIRO: Around 30 armed attackers staged a military-style assault Tuesday on a bank in southern Brazil, detonating explosives, taking hostages, exchanging gunfire with police and escaping with an undisclosed amount of money, authorities said.
The bank robbers struck just after midnight in the city of Criciuma, population 217,000, blocking streets to secure their escape route and terrifying residents.
"It was an extremely violent operation. Around 30 criminals carried out the attack, using heavy weapons and explosives," police commissioner Anselmo Cruz told TV network Globo.
A policeman and a security guard were wounded.
The robbers used explosives to blow the bank vault open, then fled in a convoy of vehicles, officials said.
TV images from the crime scene showed a police bomb squad working the area with robots to clear it of around 30 kilos of explosives the robbers left behind.
At one point, the robbers took a group of workers painting a street crossing hostage, forcing one to help carry the stolen cash, news site G1 reported.
As the chase was under way, Mayor Clesio Salvaro took to social media to urge Criciuma residents to remain home because of a "large-scale assault."
Police later found the gang's getaway cars abandoned.
Four people were arrested for snatching up around 810,000 reals (about $150,000) scattered in the street, though it was unclear whether they were directly linked to the attack.