Venezuelan Troops Try to Retake Control of Prison

Posted June 17th, 2011 at 6:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Venezuelan national guard troops have launched an operation to retake control of a prison where 22 people died in rioting by inmates earlier this week.

The troops stormed the prison Friday, igniting a gunfight with armed inmates. A Venezuelan deputy minister, Nestor Reverol, says at least six of the troops suffered gunshot wounds.

Officials say the troops have made progress in retaking control of the El Rodeo prison near the capital, Caracas.

Before entering the prison, the troops used tear gas to keep relatives of the prisoners away from the facility.

In addition to people killed, at least 20 inmates were wounded in Sunday's rioting at the prison, which holds several thousand inmates but is designed for many fewer.

Overcrowding and violence are common in Venezuelan prisons. President Hugo Chavez's government has established a new ministry dedicated exclusively to prisons and allocated nearly $100 million to oversee what it calls the “humanization” of them.