Around 200 police in Brazil are chasing a gang of thieves who took nine hostages after their attempted jewelry robbery failed.
The gang, notorious for using explosives to rob banks and stores, was targeting a jewelry factory in the city of Cotipora in Rio Grande do Sul state, BBC News reported. Police were tipped off of the plan and were able to respond to the scene quickly.
Three of the gang members died in the police assault, while the rest made off with hostages, including a child, a military police official told Agence France Presse. Two police were also injured in the clash.
Among the dead is the group's alleged leader Elisandro Falcao, the most wanted criminal in Rio Grade do Sul, according to BBC News.
Police are currently in pursuit of the remaining thieves, who are thought to have escaped into woods surrounding the city with their hostages, the Associated Press reported.
Altair de Freitas, deputy commander of the military in Rio Grande do Sul, said that police had surrounded the thick woods, and that special operations teams with sniffer dogs were also participating in the search, according to the APP.
"Our top priority is to make sure we rescue the hostages alive," said state governor Tarso Genro, BBC reported.
It was not clear if the thieves took anything from the jewelry workshop, according to the AP.
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