FOREIGN Armed men early Monday blew down the front gate of a maximum security prison in northeastern Brazil and with guns allowing 92 inmates to escape while killing a policeman.
Officials said the assault was carried out by about 20 men in four vehicles who fired on watchtowers and used explosives to destroy the front gate of the Romeu Goncalves Abrantes prison.
A policeman shot in the assault later died in hospital. There were no other reports of deaths or injuries.
The prison, a maximum security facility with 680 inmates, is located in Joao Pessoa, the capital of Paraiba state.
By midday, 41 of the 92 escaped prisoners had been recaptured as security forces locked down the state capital, closing schools and medical centres as a precaution.
More than a thousand police officers were mobilised to take part in the search.
State prisons secretariat head, Colonel Sergio Fonseca de Souza, said the aim of the assault was to free three suspects arrested a year ago for an armed assault using explosives.
Brazil has the world’s third-largest prison population, with 726,712 inmates as of June 2016, according to official statistics.