At least 57 inmates were killed, and 16 of the dead were decapitated in a prison riot in the Brazilian northern city of Altamira in Para State, on Monday as rival gang factions fought each other, an official said.
Brazil Prison Riot: 57 inmates killed, and 16 decapitated

Sickening video from a bloody prison battle in Brazil shows twisted gang members playfully kicking the decapitated heads of their rivals on the roof of the jail as 57 people have been killed in the clash. 

Six or so inmates were seen horsing around on top of the Altamira Regional Recovery Center in Brazil's northern ParĂ¡ state.

They appeared to be using human heads as balls for a sickening game of soccer.

The footage emerged hours after a 'rebellion' broke out when gang members from one prison block invaded the prison annex and reportedly set part of it on fire around 7am.

Sixteen of the 57 dead were decapitated in the bloody five-hour-long clash that ended around midday, an official from the Para state government's penitentiary department said.

It was the latest violence to rock the country's overpopulated and deadly prison system.

Brazilian TV stations showed footage of thick black smoke rising from the prison compound and people sitting on the roof of a building. Other images showed flames inside a building that almost reached the ceiling and people, apparently prisoners, sitting on the ground outside.

"It is likely that many detainees died from asphyxiation (from smoke)," Vasconcelos said, adding that some of the bodies have not yet been recovered due to the heat inside some of the prison structures and the death toll could rise.

No firearms were found at the scene, but improvised knives appear to have been used in the turf war, according to Vasconcelos.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Security said ringleaders of the violence would be transferred to federal jails, which are more secure.

The gangs in Brazil are very territorial, and focused on their illegal business. Theft and robbery bring in small amounts of money compared to narcotic and weapons sales, so it is more common for these gangs to get involved in crimes of drug and weapons trafficking.

The prison riot on Monday, according to security specialists, is a battle for control of the lucrative drug trade, which is also believed to be the reason for the killing of 56 prisoners in a prison in the Amazon city of Manaus in 2017.