By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Three men, armed with a pistol and two knives, robbed approximately forty tourists hiking the trail that connects Parque Lage and the Corcovado mountain in Zona Sul (South Zone) of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday morning.

Brazil,Trail that goes from Parque Lage to Corcovado mountain is very popular among tourists.
Trail that goes from Parque Lage to Corcovado mountain is very popular among tourists, photo by Alexandre Macieira/Riotur.

“A man came at us with a knife and when we turned, behind us there was another, also with a knife. And he took our phone, wallet, cameras, everything,” Swiss tourists identified only as Patrick told online news outlet G1.

According to local newspaper O Globo, the three men approached victims who were going up to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer as well as others who were already returning from the monument towards Parque Lage, like the Swiss.

The newspaper also said some of the tourists were held as hostages for at least two hours while the men waited for new victims to pass through the trail.

“They set up a sort of method that whoever passed by was under their power. Some victims stayed longer, some less. In the end, all were released at the same time,” said – detailed police officer Valéria Aragão, head Rio’s Tourist Police (Deat).

About fifteen foreign tourists, among them Japanese, British, Swiss and Argentineans, filed complaints in Deat Police Station.

Combating robberies like these is a top priority for Rio state’s new governor, Wilson Witzel. “We can no longer live without our freedom, afraid to go out on the streets,” he said.

“Criminals have taken over portions of our territory; we will reorganize the police structures to be able to investigate and arrest these criminals.”