At least 37 die in jail riot in southern Venezuela

Elias Hubbard
August 17, 2017

Families of the prisoners are still waiting for the dead to be identified.

Liborio Guarulla replies that the ruling socialist party has begun its campaign for the governorship with a "massacre".

The raid happened at a prison in the state capital of Puerto Ayacucho and was reportedly carried out by the Ministry of the Interior, Justice and Peace.

"The bodies are piled up in the morgue" of a local hospital, Guarulla told AFP by telephone on Thursday.

At least 14 officials were injured in the riot, prosecutors said.

While it's meant to house around 16,000 inmates, the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory group estimates that there are about 50,000 people now locked up in various facilities across the country.

The riot broke out in Puerto Ayacucho late last night, when armed inmates took control over the prison.

"In this one, detainees are only supposed to be held for up to 48 hours, but there were prisoners who have been there for years", he said.

The clash between the Puerto Ayacucho prisoners and security forces on Wednesday was the deadliest prison incident since 2013, when a riot left 61 people dead.

Venezuela has around 30 prisons, many of which suffer from overcrowding and are dominated by criminal gangs that traffic in weapons and narcotics as well as plot crimes taking beyond prison walls.

At the end of previous year, the country had 88,000 detainees, more than double the official holding capacity of 35,000 places, according to A Window to Freedom.

Conditions in Venezuelan prisons have deteriorated badly as the country suffers its worst ever economic crisis. Twelve people were killed in April in a prison in the city of Barcelona, on the country's Caribbean coast.

Months of protests against Maduro have left almost 130 people dead across the country, fanning worldwide calls for Maduro to respect democracy and hold elections.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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