Honduras prison crisis: Inmates killed in fresh violence

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A policeman escorts an inmate injured during a fight at El Porvenir prison, as they arrive at a hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, December 22, 2019Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The injured inmates were transferred to a hospital in Tegucigalpa

At least 16 inmates have been killed in a fight between rival gangs at a Honduran prison, less than two days after deadly violence at another jail.

Officials said guns, knives and machetes were used in the fight on Sunday at El Porvenir prison east of the capital, Tegucigalpa.

On Friday, 18 inmates were killed and 16 hurt in the northern city of Tela.

There has been a wave of prison violence in Honduras, where prisons are notoriously overcrowded.

The government declared a state of emergency in the prison system last Wednesday, transferring control to security forces.

President Orlando Hernandez made the decision after five members of the MS-13 gang were killed while in detention.

It was not immediately clear what had triggered the outbreak of violence at El Porvenir prison, but government security official Luis Suazo said gangs there were trying to "reverse this process" of intervention.

At least two other inmates were injured, officials added.

"The dead and wounded were attacked with bullets and sharp weapons," said Lt Antonio Coello.

Honduran prisons house more than 20,000 inmates, despite only having capacity for about 8,000.

Fights are common, as rival street gangs vie for control.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
An inmate's relatives pictured after an earlier riot in the port city of Tela