A gang of bank robbers in Brazil carried bank robberies on Monday, using their hostages as human shields.

About 11 people were forced to cling onto the roofs and bonnets of the criminals’ getaway cars. They robbers threatened to shoot them in the face if they let go.

The men struck three banks in downtown Araçatuba city in Sao Paulo starting around midnight.

The hostages were held for nearly two hours and police are still on the hunt for most of the suspects. According to Sao Paulo military police, three people died in the incidents – two of them victims and one a suspected robber.

Five others were injured and two suspects were apprehended and sent to jail.

A government official says two helicopters were used to try and track down the suspects as well as 350 police officers on the ground.

The attackers targeted the local police headquarters and blocked roads into the city using burned-out cars to stop reinforcements from arriving, before kidnapping locals at gunpoint.

One of the hostages spoke to UOL, a local news website and said a gunman had stopped him as he drove past on his motorbike.

“I’d heard a commotion, but I thought it was fireworks. Suddenly, a man pushed me off my motorbike and told me to stop. At first, I thought it was a police checkpoint but then I saw they were assailants,” he told the news agency.

Another survivor also told Brazilian news site G1 of his ordeal.

“They told me to get out of the car, tore off my shirt and threw my cap on the ground. I was put onto the bonnet of a car and told: ‘If you let go, if you try to throw yourself off, I’ll stop the car and shoot you in the face.’ I think I have never held on so tightly to anything as I did then,” he said.

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