At least one person has been killed in fighting between inmates after a riot broke out at a jail in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, media reports citing officials said late on Thursday.
Prisoners at the jail are said to have attacked each other with knifes and machetes, but it is unclear how they got the weapons. Some media reports indicated that gunshots were also head from inside the facility.
Prison officials said at least ten others were injured in the violence and added that prison guards have surrounded the facility to prevent any inmates from escaping.
Prison Director Orlando Leyva said some women were being held hostage inside the prison by rioting inmates and added that the city's Catholic bishop was inside the prison negotiating their release.
Leyva also refused to confirm reports that the riots might have been triggered by a row over a woman inside the prison, saying: "We have not yet been able to confirm that report because the women who were in the prison are still being held by the prisoners."
Stating that it is not clear who the female hostages were, Leyva noted that the prison holds female inmates and said that prostitutes and inmates' wives are allowed to go in and out out of the facility.
The official said guards were ordered not to storm the prison to avoid a "bloodbath." Nevertheless, Leyva added that the guards followed security protocols soon after the riots broke out, opening cell doors and securing the prison's perimeter.
The development came after at least 13 people were killed in a riot at the San Pedro Sula prison in March. While one prisoner was decapitated and his head thrown in front of the prison entrance by fellow inmates, the remaining were killed by a fire started by the rioters.
Prior to that prison riot, at least 360 inmates were killed in February after a massive fire swept though the prison in Comayagua, nearly 60 miles north of the capital Tegucigalpa. Most of the victims were either burnt or suffocated to death in their prison cells.
Although initial investigations blamed faulty electrical wiring for last month's fire at the Comayagua prison, authorities have since said that the deadly blaze may have been caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette.
Most of the prisons in Honduras are overcrowded, with fires and clashes between rival drug gangs and other criminal bands, as well as riots breaking out frequently. At least 107 inmates were killed in a fire at the Centro Penal de San Pedro Sula prison in 2004.
In recent years, Honduras has emerged as a major transit point for smuggling cocaine from South America to the United States as well as Europe. According to the United Nations, the Latin American nation tops the world list in the number of drug-related killings.
by RTT Staff Writer
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