Rival gangs clash in Guatemalan prison brawl | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 02.01.2016
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Rival gangs clash in Guatemalan prison brawl

Several inmates were killed and dozens more injured during an overnight riot in an overcrowded Guatemalan prison. Two victims were decapitated and two others burned, officials say.

The overnight violence in Puerto Barrios prison erupted after authorities thwarted an escape attempt, officials said Friday.

The clash started as an altercation between two inmates, sparking a battle between rival gangs which killed at least eight prisoners, Guatemalan Interior Minister Eunice Mendizabal said after arriving at the scene.

At least 24 people were injured in the clash, according to prison officials, which is located some 300 kilometers (185 miles) northeast of the capital Guatemala City.

Two of the inmates were decapitated, and two other bodies were burned, according to the state prosecutor's spokeswoman Yesenia Enriquez. Firefighters were also deployed to put out several blazes inside the facility.

The riot police managed to regain control early Friday, following hours of unrest.

Trouble with overcrowded jails

The Guatemalan prison is severely overcrowded, currently holding almost 1,000 prisoners in facilities designed for 400, according to minister Mendizabal. Other sources claim the prison was built to hold fewer than 200 inmates.

This is only the latest in a string of deadly prison riots in the Central American country.

In late November, a brawl between inmates erupted in a maximum security prison in the south of Guatemala, killing 17 people. Three of the victims there were also decapitated.

dj/xx (dpa, AFP, Reuters, AP)

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