19 killed in Mexico prison clash

Last Updated: Sun, Aug 16, 2009 09:10 hrs

At least 19 inmates of a prison have been killed in a clash in the northwestern Mexican state of Durango, officials have said.

More than 26 were also injured in the brawl that broke out Friday night between rival groups in the jail in the city of Gomez Palacio, Jorge Torres, Durango's public safety secretary, told the press Saturday.

'It was a clash between rival groups,' Torres said, giving no details about what kind of weapons the inmates used in the battle.

Television images showed columns of smoke and prisoners' family members throwing stone at security forces who had rushed to scene to control the situation.

The Gomez Palacio prison houses numerous criminals and gangsters having links to the country's drug cartels and other gangs of organised crime. The inmates often fight each other to control the prison.

'What happens in the streets is repeated in the jails,' said the public safety secretary with reference to the turf wars among Mexican cartels for control of markets and drug routes to the US.

According to report, the battle lasted for four hours and was quelled only after the deployment of municipal, state and federal police plus army soldiers.

Tanks and two trucks of police and soldiers entered the jail along with eight ambulances.

The war among drug traffickers so far this year has taken 4,200 lives in the country and close to 15,000 in the last three and half years.

The official said that the situation at Gomez Palacio Prison is relatively calm, but it's still 'a time bomb' if the detention centre continues to house common criminals alongside those from organised crime.

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