The Santa Catarina Military Police – a state agency with numerous battalions – was called in and, following local reports, sought reinforcements to confront the group.

Cristian Dimitri Andrade, a commander of the military police in Criciúma, told reporters that the attackers were “several men with rifles and long arms” and described them as “an organized crime gang specializing in bank robberies”. He said two people, including a police officer, were shot dead.

“We receive information from local residents who send us photos and videos,” he told Engeplus, a local news agency.

The police could not be reached immediately for comment.

Criciúma, with more than 133,000 inhabitants in 2010, is located in the state of Santa Catarina and is considered the center of the Brazilian ceramic and floor tile industry.

Bank robberies in Brazil, which has some of the worst crime and homicide rates in the world, are hardly uncommon. In recent years gangs have tried tunnels to make their way to the millions, detonated dynamite to detonate bank branches, and blown up ATMs to win money.

In 2005, thieves rented a house a block from a bank, started a fake gardening business, and dug a 262-foot tunnel under a bank for three months in the coastal town of Fortaleza. They made it with over $ 50.8 million, authorities said.

In 2017, the Brazilian police discovered a tunnel with electric lighting and ventilation that prevented the planned robbery of a branch in São Paulo of the state-run Banco do Brasil. 16 suspects were arrested.

Yan Zhuang contributed to the coverage.

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