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Venezuelan troops continue prison assault
About 60 armed prisoners in prison complex refuse to surrender nearly two weeks after initial deadly violence.
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2011 10:52
Riots broke out on June 12 when a security force engaged in gun battle with inmates at Rodeo prison complex [Reuters]

Venezuelan state television has released new footage of Rodeo I and Rodeo II prisons as a bloody clash between National Guard troops and inmates continues nearly two weeks after the initial outbreak of violence.

Relatives of a group of about 60 prisoners who have still not surrendered read a statement on Friday saying that the holdouts "will not leave the prison until the National Guard are removed".

Four more bodies were removed from Venezuela's Rodeo prison complex, state-owned television reported on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 29 as the military continues to try to regain control.

Riots broke out on June 12 when armed clashes among inmates killed 22 people in what officials said is the most violent prison riot in a Venezuelan prison since 1999.

Five days after the violence began, thousands of National Guard troops intervened and two soldiers and one prisoner were killed, officials said.

Inmates claim several fellow prisoners have also suffered injuries and urgently require medical treatment.

Seven rifles, five shotguns, 20 pistols, eight grenades, 45kg of cocaine, 5,000 rifle cartridges, 100 mobile phones and 12kg of marijuana were found in the prison complex, under the control of the National Guard, state television reported.

Opposition politicians called for a congressional investigation into allegedly corrupt guards and the trafficking of guns and drugs inside Venezuela's prisons.

The country's 30 prisons were built to house 12,500 inmates, but now hold about 49,000, according to the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, a group that monitors prison conditions.

Last year, 476 people died and 967 were injured in prison violence across Venezuela, according to figures compiled by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The commission issued a statement last week, urging the Venezuelan government to ensure its troops did "not directly commit attacks against the life or physical integrity of those in custody".

Source:
Agencies
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