tegucigalpa [Honduras]June 21 (ANI): Riots broke out at the only women’s prison in central Honduras, killing 41 inmates in one of the deadliest episodes of violence in the country’s long-troubled prison system, The New York Times reported.
Most of the victims suffered burns, while others were shot, according to prosecutor’s office spokesman Yuri Mora. Mora further added that the death toll was expected to rise as investigators searched the detention center in Tamara, near the capital Tegucigalpa.
“We are dismayed by the loss of life,” Julissa Villanueva, deputy security minister and head of the prison system in Honduras, told a news conference. She said the country’s penal system had been “hijacked” by organized crime.
A similar incident occurred in 2019, when 40 gang members were killed in clashes at two all-male prisons over the same weekend. Tuesday’s death toll made the incident the deadliest prison riot in the Central American country in years, The New York Times reported.
Killings at women’s prisons have spiked in recent years, with several inmates strangled or stabbed in a standoff between female gang members of two rival criminal organizations, the 18th Street Gang and the MS-13 Gang.
The country’s president, Xiomara Castro, said she was “appalled” by the deaths and promised “severe measures” to hold responsible officials accountable.
The riot was “planned by gangs in full view of law enforcement,” she tweeted, without elaborating.
The MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang are longtime rivals that originated in the United States and have fomented violence in Honduras and neighboring countries for decades.
A 2021 Human Rights Watch report on Honduras said “overcrowding, undernutrition, poor sanitation, beatings, gang violence, and killing of detainees are widespread in prisons.”
The National Prison for Social Adaptation for Women in Honduras holds about 800 inmates, roughly double its capacity, a government official said, according to The New York Times.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights documented “several incidents of violence” in Honduran prisons in 2020, including women’s prisons, where “no violent death has been previously reported.” Some of the incidents were “allegedly committed using firearms and other prohibited items,” the commission said. (Arnie)
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