At least 16 killed in Honduras jail in more prison unrest

Government has declared ‘state of emergency’ in prison system, giving control of institutions to police and military.

Honduras prison violence
A policeman escorts an inmate injured during a fight at El Porvenir prison to hospital [Jorge Cabrera/Reuters]

At least 16 prisoners have been killed during a fight between armed gangs of inmates in a jail in Honduras, officials said, the second outbreak of violence to hit the country’s prison system in the past few days.

The deaths on Sunday took place in Honduras’s El Porvenir penitentiary, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) east of the capital Tegucigalpa, and followed a fight between gangs at a prison in the northern port city of Tela in which 18 inmates were killed.

Unrest in the Central American country’s overcrowded jails is common as street gangs known as maras compete for control of the institutions. Nearly 22,000 people are imprisoned in Honduras’s 27 prisons.

Last week, the government declared a state of emergency over the prison system and transferred control of the institutions and prisons to police forces and the military in an effort to combat the surge in violence. 

The preliminary death count from Sunday’s prison gang fight stands at 16, according to Colonel Jose Gonzalez, a senior penal system official. Two people were injured, he said.

“The dead and wounded were attacked with bullets and sharp weapons,” said Lieutenant Antonio Coello, a security spokesman.

Since October, there have been at least five shootouts in Honduran prisons.

On Saturday, top military officer General Tito Livio Moreno indicated that the military would be deployed to 18 jails identified as “high risk”.

Source: News Agencies