15 killed in prison riot in Venezuela

By AP
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CARACAS, Venezuela:
A riot in a Venezuelan prison left at least 15 inmates dead and 12
injured as prisoners fought for control of the facility, the justice
minister said.

The clashes broke out Saturday in a prison in the southwestern city
of San Cristobal, near the Colombian border, Justice Minister Pedro
Carreno told reporters. Police and national guard troops have restored
order, he said.

Carreno said the violence broke out after one group of prisoners
took visiting relatives hostage. He blamed it on a group of imprisoned
paramilitary fighters, the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional reported
Sunday.

The same group is believed responsible for the killings of the prison director and his deputy months ago, Carreno said.

Violence is common in Venezuela's overcrowded and understaffed
prisons. The watchdog group Venezuelan Prisons Observatory said there
have been about 800 killed in the country's prisons in the last two
years.

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