At least 20 people were killed in an outbreak of violence between rival gangs at a prison just outside Venezuela's capital city of Caracas, media reports citing officials said Monday.
According to the Iris Varela, the country's prison's minister, the riot occurred at the Yare I prison in Miranda state, south of Caracas. She was quoted as saying by the state TV that the situation at the facility is currently under control.
She told VTV that the violence occurred between members of two rival gangs. The reason for the riot is not yet clear. The twenty people people killed in the violent fighting included "a family member of one of the prisoners."
"There was a confrontation between two heavily armed groups inside the prison," Varela said, adding that those responsible for the violence would be "made to answer" for their actions.
Noting that the culprits were "a minority who maintain control through terror," she stressed that the majority of the prisoners "want to pay off the debt they owe and return to their lives."
Gang fights are common in Venezuelan jails, which are mostly controlled by groups with links to drug-trafficking. Last month, a riot in the Cepra penitentiary continued for 20 days before the leaders of the rebellion gave themselves up.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights estimates that more than 500 people were killed in such prison riots in Venezuela last year.
Rights groups have often criticized Venezuela's overcrowded prisons. President Hugo Chavez had set up the prisons ministry July 2011 to reform the existing system after a major uprising erupted at another prison outside Caracas.
by RTT Staff Writer
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