HONDURAS: At least 41 people have been killed in a Honduran women’s prison after a grisly riot, a public prosecutors’ office spokesperson said on Tuesday.
It’s understood that a confrontation broke out between rival groups, after which one of the gangs lit a cell on fire.
Officials say that the fire caused the majority of the fatalities, but some of the victims also suffered gunshot wounds.
Julissa Villanueva, the nation’s deputy minister of security, has proclaimed a state of emergency and vowed to crack down on the violence.
Additionally, she gave her approval for the “immediate intervention” of the military, police, and firefighters.
It is not yet clear if all those killed were prisoners of the jail, which houses about 900 people and is located about 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.
Several other detainees have been taken to the hospital.
Delma Ordonez, a lawyer for the detainees’ families, told the local media that the violence had “completely destroyed” a portion of the prison.
Social media videos show a massive column of grey smoke rising from the women’s jail.
President Xiomara Castro, who last year began a campaign against gangs, posted on social media that she was “shocked by the monstrous murder of women” and will be taking “drastic measures” in retaliation.
Investigations will be launched to prosecute “all those in prison who are in collusion with organised crime,” Villanueva stated.
Honduras is infamous for its gang-related violence and corruption, which have caused the country’s homicide rate to skyrocket.
The nation is a significant transit point for cocaine travelling from South America to the United States, along with its neighbours El Salvador and Guatemala.
Additionally, it has a history of violent jail riots, many of which have been connected to organised crime.
In 2019, At least 18 prisoners were killed in gang violence at a penitentiary in the northern port city of Tela, and more than 350 died in a blaze in 2012.