Caracas: Twenty-four inmates and the parent of a prisoner were killed on Sunday in clashes between rival gangs in prison I Yare, near Caracas, the Venezuelan government announced Monday, another episode of violence in prisons overcrowded country .
"We have so far identified only 17 deaths but the total count of people who have lost their lives in the explosion of violence in this setting is 25," said the Minister of Prison in Venezuela, Iris Varela, noting that one of the deceased was a relative of a detainee.
In addition, "43 people were injured," in which were 29 inmates and 14 parents, she added. Among the wounded detainees, "nine remain under observation," but most of the inmates returned to prison, she said.
Difficulties in identifying the bodies are that many of them "are disfigured," victims of blank shots, added the minister. The identification is based on fingerprints.
"A clash took place yesterday (Sunday) between two heavily armed groups inside the prison," she had explained earlier.
According to the minister, the conflict began during a "conversation" between the leaders of these two groups, in which "it seems that a shot was fired," which, although it has not hurt anyone was the trigger fights.
Earlier, the minister said that the situation was now under control in the prison.
Maria, 50, a relative of a prisoner (whose name has been changed), told a media house that she left the prison shortly after the fighting began. She said that she saw "a man with the left half of the face and another with a bloody leg and arm destroyed."
"Here, there is too much violence and corruption, the guards let in weapons to the prisoners," said Carmen that the shooting was surprised when she came out of prison after having seen her husband and brother.
For its part, the Minister acknowledged that the fight against custodial violence was "a vigorous fight against corruption," admitting that some officials, soldiers and civilians were involved in arms trafficking inside prison. "Those responsible for these deaths inside prisons will have to answer for their actions," said Ms. Varela.
The prison has a capacity of 750 seats but currently houses 3,150 prisoners. Venezuelan prisons suffer from poor sanitation, overcrowding and violence, and often they are controlled by gangs of heavily armed prisoners frequently which generates internal clashes.
According to non-governmental organizations, since President Hugo Chavez has created the Ministry of prison in the wake of a mutiny that killed more than thirty in June 2011 in the vicinity of Caracas, more than 500 detainees were killed and 1,200 injured in prison, numbers are already up from previous years.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 300 prisoners were killed in Venezuelan prisons. According to official figures, the country's detention centers hosting nearly 50,000 prisoners to 14,000 seats.
Venezuela is the most violent country in Latin America, with nearly 20,000 murders recorded in 2011 by the NGO Venezuelan Observatory of Violence (OVV).