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Brazil Bank Assault
This handout photo released by the Civil Police of Ceara shows explosives seized by the police after a shootout with bank robbers, in Milagres, in Brazil's state of Ceara, on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Brazilian authorities say that at least 12 people have been killed in two attempted bank robberies in Milagres downtown area. (Civil Police of Ceara via AP)

At least 12 dead, including two children, in pair of bank heists in Brazil

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — At least 12 people, including two children, were killed Friday when police engaged in a shootout with bank robbers, according to authorities in northeastern Brazil.

The two attempted heists in the state of Ceara began around 2:30 a.m. in the downtown area of the city of Milagres.

Robbers at one bank took several people hostage when police surrounded the area, according to a police statement. A firefight broke out, leaving several dead. Authorities have yet to identify the dead.

Two suspects were apprehended, according to police.

Milagres Mayor Lielson Macedo Landim told local media that two children, between 10 and 13 years old, were killed in the shooting. It was not immediately clear how the hostages were taken. Police did not immediately respond to email and phone requests for more information.

Latin America's largest nation routinely is the world leader in annual homicides. Ceara is one of the country's most violent states.

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