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Viral video captures footage of roving bands of heavily armed bank robbery suspects with hostages strapped to getaway cars as 'human shields'

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Image source: New York Post video screenshot

Viral video has captured the moment Brazilian bank robbery suspects were seen with hostages strapped to getaway vehicles, according to a report from the New York Post.

The outlet reported that the suspects also reportedly planted explosives around the city of Araçatuba early Monday morning, in order to evade responding authorities, and set fires to buses and other vehicles to serve as deterrents in responding to the crimes.

What are the details?

Video footage shows victims strapped to the roofs and hoods of at least 10 vehicle, according to the report, after at least 20 bank robbery suspects hit three banks across Araçatuba.

Three people were killed during the robberies, and at least four people were injured by gunshots in the melee.

Authorities report that one bystander lost both legs after tripping an explosion as he rode by the scene on his bicycle. The makeshift bomb was reportedly one of 14 hidden across the city, prompting authorities to urge residents to shelter in place.

Araçatuba Mayor Dilador Borges told CNN that authorities continued to seek the remaining suspects.

"It was horrific," Borges said, according to a New York Times report. "The police didn't come closer because they saw the hostages. The tragedy could have been far worse."

According to the Washington Post, such raids — "shock and awe bank heists" — are increasing in their frequency.

"The nighttime raids are intricately planned, well choreographed, and executed by well-financed groups equipped with the weaponry and gadgetry of war," the outlet reported. "Such attacks, orchestrated by what are thought to be specialized criminal groups, often follow a similar pattern. They occur at night, often in midsize cities, usually around the end or the beginning of the month, when banks are more likely to be filled with cash to pay out people waiting for public benefits."

On Monday, the Times reported that 10 suspected gunmen were in police custody and that the three victims included one suspect and two residents.

Capt. Alexandre Guedes, a military police official, told the outlet that authorities continue to investigate "whether all hostages have been released and whether any gunmen remain in Araçatuba."

What are people saying about this?

One citizen expressed concerns over the developing violence in the city.

"I'm in tears and desperate," the resident said. "Help, Lord, protect the people here. My God, it looks like a movie scene, what is happening here."

Criminologist Jânia Perla Diógenes de Aquino said that bank heists of this type are growing "increasingly sophisticated" in their planning and execution.

"It's what is customary to call among police and some journalists the 'new banditry,'" she said of the raids in a 2020 interview, according to the Washington Post's report. "With these new groups you have instead of trying to avoid a confrontation with the police, an attempt to provoke one."

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