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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 20 September, 2019
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In Pictures: Riots leave at least three dead in Venezuelan prisons

Horrified relatives struggled to contain their emotions as they watched the violence unfold.

Relatives have gathered outside the prison as the riots and violence unfolded over the weekend.
Relatives have gathered outside the prison as the riots and violence unfolded over the weekend.
Image: Associated Press Photo

FIRE RIPPED THROUGH a prison where thousands of Venezuelan troops struggled to put down a revolt by inmates yesterday as dozens of horrified relatives tried to watch the fighting.

Officials in the city of Guatire gave few descriptions about the progress of the three-day battle at the Rodeo I prison and did not say if more people had been killed or injured beyond the three dead and 18 wounded reported on the first day of the clash.

Gunfire continued to rattle from the compound.

Deputy Justice Minister Nestor Reverol told state television the pre-dawn fire was caused by a short circuit, and that inmates had been evacuated before flames engulfed a building. Some relatives outside said that prisoners with cell phones had told them troops started the blaze.

The violence erupted in the El Rodeo I prison as troops searched for weapons, and has since extended to Rodeo II, an adjacent prison. A riot at El Rodeo I on 12 June left 22 people dead.

It was not clear how many inmates remained at the prison or how many were resisting the troops. Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said Sunday that at least 2,500 inmates had been transferred to other prisons.

A 5,000-strong security force, including 3,500 National Guard troops, was joined on Saturday by 400 soldiers from an elite army paratroop unit, according to officials.

Journalists from The Associated Press watched half a dozen armored vehicles circle courtyards inside the compound on Sunday. Troops lined up along tree-covered hillsides surrounding the prisons and repeatedly fired volleys of tear gas canisters.

Gunfire erupted sporadically throughout the day.

Venezuela’s severely crowded prisons have suffered repeated violent outbursts as rival gangs often fight for control of cellblocks and sell weapons and drugs with the help of corrupt prison guards.

The country’s 30 prisons were built to hold about 12,500 prisoners but instead hold about 49,000, according to the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, a group that monitors prison conditions.

Last year, 476 peopled died and 967 people were injured in the country’s prison system, according to figures compiled by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

- AP

In Pictures: Riots leave at least three dead in Venezuelan prisons
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  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

  • Venezuela Prison Violence

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