At least 14 people have been killed and a dozen others injured after a mass shooting at a packed nightclub in Fortaleza, the capital of the north-eastern Brazilian state of Ceará.
Heavily-armed bandits stormed the club in the early hours of Saturday morning, in what was understood to be the result of a dispute between two criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking.
Local police say that members of the Guardians of the State (GDE) group were seen confronting rival members of the Red Command (CV) outside the Forró Do Gago club.
Reports indicate that up to 15 gunmen arrived at the venue in three separate cars at around 1.30am, and fired their weapons as they entered the club, as those nearby ran for shelter.
The majority of those killed were innocent bystanders, including hotdog vendor Marisa Mara, who was outside the venue, and Uber driver Natanael da Silva, who was dropping off a customer.
Mara’s 12-year-old son was wounded during the attack, and was among at least a dozen survivors taken to hospital, including a pair of 16-year-old girls.
This incident is now the deadliest mass shooting in the state of Ceará, after a 2015 nightclub shooting that saw 11 people killed. Last year, there were 5114 murders reported in the region.
Local security secretary Andre Costa called the shooting a “one-off event, as occurs all over the world” and added that it was unlikely local police could have done anything to stop it.
A police helicopter was deployed to look for the suspects, but no arrests have been made as yet.
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Image: AAP / Cid Barbosa / Diario do Nordeste / HANDOUT