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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
Honduras rioters back in prison
All the inmates who survived a deadly riot in a northern Honduran prison are now back behind bars, the authorities say.

Wounded Mara 18 inmate
All surviving gang members are in custody
Officials originally thought some prisoners had escaped during Saturday's riot in which a total of 69 people were killed.

The incident began when inmates belonging to the country's toughest street gang, Mara 18, tried to take control of the El Porvenir prison near the Caribbean port of La Ceiba, according to Deputy Security Minister Armando Calidono.

He said about 100 gang members used pistols and knives to attack regular inmates awaiting trial on lesser charges.

But the regular prisoners fought back using knives and other smuggled weapons.

The common inmates, because of superior numbers, managed to beat back the gang members into their cells
Armando Calidono
Deputy Security Minister

At one stage a grenade was thrown, starting a fire in which many died. Other victims were shot, stabbed and clubbed to death.

Most of the victims were gang members, who were quickly outnumbered and cornered, authorities said.

"The common inmates, because of their numerical superiority, managed to back the gang members into their cells," Mr Calidono said.

In the aftermath, police seized 12 assault rifles, three grenades and three pistols.

Of the 69 dead, 61 were Mara 18 members, five were regular prisoners and three were women visiting the prison when the riot erupted.

'Time bomb'

Correspondents say police were slow to storm the prison. Of the 30 people injured in the riot, only one was a police officer.

Security forces move in after the riot
Security forces were slow to quell the riot
The fighting was sparked by a raid on Friday in which inmates trusted by the authorities tried to seize weapons held by Mara 18 members, according to officials.

The surviving Mara 18 members have been placed in another facility.

The prison was built for 300 inmates but housed 555.

Mr Calidono admitted on Sunday that Honduras' overcrowded prisons were "a time bomb" waiting to go off.

President Ricardo Maduro has ordered an inquiry into the riot.

In 1998 nearly 250 prisoners escaped after a riot when part of El Porvenir was set on fire.


SEE ALSO:
Dozens die in Honduras jail riot
05 Apr 03  |  Americas



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