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Police in Brazil have killed 25 suspects as part of what authorities called an unprecedented offensive against heavily armed bank robbers whose brazen heists have brought several major cities to a standstill, The Guardian reported.

The alleged criminals were gunned down in the early hours of Sunday in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais, where police claimed they had been poised to unleash an attack.

“This operation … will go down in history,” the Minas Gerais state security secretary, Rogerio Greco, told local radio.

The federal highway police, who took part in the mission, said the group had “a veritable military arsenal” including assault rifles, .50-caliber machine guns, explosives and bulletproof vests.

Cangaco-style gangs have been responsible for a series of raids in Brazil in recent years, often targeting banks in mid-sized cities in the interior of southern and southeastern states.

In December 2020, gangsters laid siege to the southern city of Criciuma, torching vehicles, kidnapping government employees, blowing up a bank and engaging in a two-hour gun battle as the mayor implored residents to stay off the streets.

In August there was a similar attack in the city of Aracatuba in Sao Paulo state, as black-clad criminals raided banks before fleeing with hostages strapped to the roofs of their getaway vehicles.

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