Bank robbers 'strap people on car roofs' as human shields

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) -Armed robbers hit several banks in a small Brazilian city on Monday, using locals as human shields, leaving a trail of explosive devices and shooting at police in an assault that killed at least three people, a senior state security official said.

The brazen attack around midnight in Araçatuba, a city of roughly 200,000 people in the interior of Sao Paulo state, is the latest in a series of increasingly violent recent bank heists here in Brazil. Experts believe a COVID-19 pandemic welfare program for poorer Brazilians has encouraged robbers to plan bold raids in sleepy regional cities where bank branches are storing more cash.

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