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8 killed in mass shooting in southern Brazil school

13 March 2019

Two armed men wearing face masks entered a Brazilian elementary school today and shot and killed at least six children who were on their snack breaks, as well as two school officials, before fatally turning their guns on themselves, police said.

It is not clear the motive of the shooting, police say.

Among the dead were five school children, one adult who worked at the building, one person who was standing just outside the school and the two adolescent shooters, police said.

At least 17 more students were injured in the shooting and taken to nearby hospitals.

It was not yet known why the gunmen attacked the school, where about 1,000 children aged 11 to 16 attend classes.

"It's a very sad scene - the saddest thing I've seen in my entire life", said Sao Paulo Governor João Doria.

Latin America's most populous nation has the largest number of annual homicides in the world, but school shootings are rare. Police arrived eight minutes after the shooting started and did not confront the gunmen, who had already killed themselves, he said.

The men, identified as former students at the school in a suburb of Sao Paulo, also shot and killed the owner of a used vehicle business nearby before launching the attack on the school, authorities said. Nine others were wounded in the school attack and hospitalized, he said.

The last major school shooting in the country was in 2011, when 12 children were shot dead by a former pupil in Rio de Janeiro.

Gun laws have been extremely strict in Brazil since 2003 when former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva signed measures that prevented ordinary citizens from carrying guns.

"In 34 years as a policeman, it's the first time I see someone use a crossbow like that", police Col. Marcelo Salles said.