Venezuelan forces storm prison 'to protect lives'

A National Guard general, Antonio Benavidez (left), near sitting inmates in the El Rodeo jail (17 June 2011) Venezuelan National Guard troops overseeing sitting inmates during the operation to regain control

Related Stories

At least 3,500 troops from the Venezuelan National Guard have stormed a prison near the capital, Caracas in an attempt to regain control there.

It follows a riot last Sunday between two rival gangs, in which 21 inmates were killed, and many more injured.

Government official Nestor Reverol said the troops had now reasserted control over three-quarters of inmates at the Rodeo prison.

Some prisoners have resisted, and gunfire has been heard inside.

Reports suggest the clashes broke out as troops tried to disarm some of the prisoners.

Notoriously overcrowded

The government says at least one member of the security forces has been killed, and another 19 injured.

Start Quote

The intervention we're carrying out today isn't to massacre [the prisoners]”

End Quote Elias Jaua Venezuelan Vice-President

So far, it is not clear if there have been casualties amongst the inmates.

The security forces have also fired tear gas in an effort to disperse groups of relatives of the inmates, who have gathered outside the jail.

Some angry relatives threw stones and other missiles at the troops.

The Venezuelan vice-president, Elias Jaua, has sought to reassure the prisoners' relatives.

In a televised speech, he explained to them why the government needed to take action.

"The intervention we're carrying out today isn't to massacre their relatives," he said, "it's to protect the lives of more than 5,000 inmates."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a statement on Thursday calling for the Venezuelan authorities "to take concrete steps to protect the life and physical integrity of persons deprived of liberty".

Venezuelan prisons are notoriously overcrowded and there have been a series of riots since the beginning of the year.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Prostitute in red light district in Seoul, South KoreaSex for soldiers

    How Korea helped prostitutes work near US military bases


  • LuckyDumped

    The rubbish collector left on the scrap heap as his city cleans up


  • A woman gets a Thanksgiving meal at a church in FergusonFamily fears

    Three generations in Ferguson share Thanksgiving reflections


  • Canada joins TwitterTweet North

    Canada's self-deprecating social media feed


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • IslandsUnmapped places

    Will the age-old quest to capture uncharted land and space ever end?

Programmes

  • All-inclusive holidaysThe Travel Show Watch

    With all-inclusive holidays seeing a resurgence are local trades missing out to big resorts?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.