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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 13:59 GMT
No night cash for scared Brazilians

Brazilian banks have decided to keep their automatic cash machines closed overnight, in a effort to curb a widespread new crime, known as flash-kidnappings.

The abductions happen daily, with people seized as they use the cash machines. They are then driven to other machines and forced to withdraw the maximum amount allowed.

The banks were due to restore a full 24-hour service, suspended last year because of a serious energy crisis.

But the banking authorities said emergency measures were needed in light of the abductions, and the machines would stay closed from 10 pm until 6 am.

However, the decision to shut the machines has been criticised by the Brazilian Justice Minister, Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, who says it will not help reduce crime.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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