At least 16 killed in Venezuela prison riot


Relatives of inmates await outside of the Uribana prison in Lara state, Venezuela, on January 26, 2013, a day after a riot broke out. Another riot broke out on September 16, 2013 at Venezuela's Sabaneta prison, leaving 16 dead.



At least 16 inmates were killed in a prison riot that began Wednesday in the western Venezuelan state of Zulia.

"Fifteen people died ... There is one person, number 16, who also died but in another area not involved in the internal war that there was ... at that time, but also the product of violence," Iris Varela, the Cabinet minister in charge of Venezuela's penitentiaries, told reporters at an official event broadcast by state television.

The three inmates who started the riot were among the dead.

Some of the prisoners were beheaded, while others were dismembered.

The fighting at Sabaneta jail was said to be between rival gangs and lasted two days.

Varela said the riot had been "the result of an internal war within the prison" and that the prisoners had not been fighting for control of the facility. She also called for an end to the violence.

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"We don't want even one more death. Enough of the violence," she said.

Sabaneta is now the most violent prison in Venezuela, with 69 people killed behind its bars this year alone.

It was also where one of Venezuela's biggest prison tragedies occurred, when more than 100 prisoners died in a fire in 1994 that was suspected to have been caused by inmates trying to get revenge on a rival gang.

Venezuelan prisons are also severely overcrowded, with Sabaneta housing 3,700 inmates in a space meant for 700.