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Inmates hold more than 200 hostages in Brazil
Updated: 2005-12-27 14:06

Rebellious inmates armed with makeshift knives were holding more than 200 people hostage Monday at a prison in Brazil's remote Amazon jungle state of Rondonia.

The uprising began during visiting hours Sunday afternoon at the Urso Branco State Prison in the state capital, Porto Velho, some 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) northwest of Sao Paulo

"In all, 207 people _ 190 women and 17 men _ are being held hostage," said Renato Eduardo de Souza, head of the state's public safety department. "All of them are relatives of the inmates."

He said inmates told reporters and lawyers that at least 10 prisoners had been killed during the uprising "but so far we have not seen any bodies."

The inmates said they would release the hostages after one of their leaders _ Edinildo Paula de Souza, who had been transferred to another facility about one month ago _ was returned.

"We agreed to return Edinildo as soon as the hostages were released and after a complete search for weapons and drugs," de Souza said. "But they refused, demanding that Edinildo be returned first. Hopefully negotiators will be able to break this impasse."

He said most of approximately 1,200 inmates at Urso Branco were taking part in the rebellion. The prison was built to hold 350 inmates.

"For now, we are not thinking of raiding the prison," de Souza said, adding that about 150 heavily armed police officers have surrounded the prison.

"We have cut off water, electricity and food supplies in an efforts to tire them out."

In April 2004, the Urso Branco prison was the site of a bloody five-day uprising that left 14 inmates dead _ many of them hacked to death and tossed from the prison's roof.

During the five days, prisoners held hostage about 170 relatives, most of them women.

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