Brazilian Bank Heists Put President on Firing Line

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Brazilian Bank Heists Put President on Firing Line

SÃO PAULO—Gunmen armed with explosives sowed terror overnight in a small city in northern Brazil, the latest in a spate of violent bank heists that have challenged President Jair Bolsonaro’s promise to restore law and order.

More than a dozen men brandishing military-style assault rifles stormed into Cametá, a sleepy riverside city of 134,000 people in the Amazon on Tuesday night, and used residents as human shields as they robbed a bank. One resident was killed and another injured in the 2½-hour attack.

The robbers came away empty-handed because they blew open the wrong safe, according to the state governor.

The onslaught came a day after a gang of 30 men armed with military-grade weapons invaded the southern city of Criciúma in a similar bank heist, leaving more than $100,000 in bank notes scattered on the city’s deserted streets as they fled.

Police said they were investigating whether the crimes were connected. While it is unlikely the same men carried out both attacks, which took place more than 2,000 miles apart, security experts said they come amid a rise in bank heists across the country’s smaller cities.

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