“Our security forces are hunting those bandits to respond quickly to the population,” Governor Ratinho Junior said in a Facebook post Monday morning.
Guarapuava, a city of 184,000 inhabitants, is located about halfway between the capital Curitiba and the triple borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The robbers attacked a police battalion and set a large fire at the gate in an apparent attempt to prevent security forces from reacting.
Brazil has witnessed several well-coordinated robberies in recent years with a similar modus operandi: targeting a small or medium-sized city, taking hostages and blocking access to roads to facilitate the robbery and escape.
The most recent attack took place last August in Araçatuba, a similar-sized city in the state of Sao Paulo. After looting two bank branches, the criminals in Araçatuba drove off with hostages who clung to the roofs and hoods of their cars to prevent the police from firing at the escape convoy.
Video of Guarapuava posted on social media showed a few residents standing in the street with their arms outstretched, apparently as human shields. Local media G1 mentioned Colonel Romulo Marinho Soares, Parana state’s head of public security, who said the criminals fled the city without their score.
Brazil’s Justice and Public Security Minister Anderson Torres said on Twitter that reinforcements from the federal police and federal highway police are on the way.