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At least 60 inmates have been killed during a riot in an overcrowded Brazilian prison, officials say.

The unrest in Manaus, in Amazonas state, started on January 1 after a fight between rival gangs, police said.

The violence ended 17 hours later, when the inmates surrendered their weapons and freed unharmed the last of 12 guards they had taken hostage.

Brazil has the world’s fourth largest prison population.

There are some 600,000 inmates in Brazil, and overcrowding is a serious problem. Reports said the capacity of the Anisio Jobim Penitentiary Centre, the biggest in Amazonas, was for 454 inmates, but it had 1,224 men.

Image source AP

When the riot began, six headless bodies were thrown over the perimeter fence of the prison. Pictures showed bloodied and burned bodies stacked in a concrete prison yard and piled in carts.

The state public security secretary, Sergio Fontes, said rival gangs operating inside and outside the prison had been fighting for control over drug trafficking.

According to Sergio Fontes, the violence appeared to be a message from Family of the North (FDN), a powerful local gang, to rivals from the First Capital Command (PCC), one of Brazil’s largest gangs, whose base is in Sao Paulo, in the south-east.

He called it “the biggest massacre” ever committed at a prison in Amazonas.

The inmates got weapons through a hole in a prison wall, he added. Several firearms were found in the post-riot search by police, as well as several tunnels.

Prisoners at a second jail unit nearby also rioted and many escaped, Sergio Fontes said. Some 40 inmates had been recaptured, he added. It was unclear how many remained at large.

Fights between rival gangs often result in dozens of inmates being killed and sometimes dismembered.

The gang members behind the deadly riots are often from violent inner-city areas of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo who have been transferred to prisons in remote states in order to break up their gangs.

However, the number of deadly riots in these states would seem to indicate that this strategy has not worked according to plan, correspondents say.

This was the deadliest prison riot in Brazil since 1992, when a rebellion at the Carandiru prison in Sao Paulo saw 111 inmates killed, nearly all of them by police as they retook the jail.


Australia’s Christmas Island detention center has been set on fire by inmates in a “major disturbance” that is yet to be resolved, government officials say.

The unrest was sparked by the death of an Iranian detainee, Fazel Chegeni, who had escaped the camp.

The immigration department confirmed in a statement that guards had been withdrawn for “safety reasons”.

The statement denied a “large-scale riot” was taking place but said the situation at the center for refugees and asylum seekers was “tense”.

Christmas Island is a remote outpost located 1,650 miles north-west of Perth and 238 miles south of Java in Indonesia.

It is part of Australia’s network of offshore processing centers for irregular refugees who arrive by boat, and also houses New Zealanders facing deportation from Australia.

The Department of Immigration said the unrest started when a group of Iranian inmates staged a protest about the death of an Iranian Kurd, Fazel Chegeni.

Fazel Chegeni had escaped from the facility on November 7. His body was found at the bottom of a cliff on November 8.Christmas Island detention centre riot

The statement said that “while peaceful protest is permissible, other detainees took advantage of the situation to engage in property damage and general unrest”.

It said a number of small fires had been lit within the complex and that a group of detainees “continue to agitate and cause damage to the facility”.

“There are no reports at this time of any injuries to detainees or staff.”

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said officers from private contractor Serco, which operates the detention centre, would be “negotiating or dealing with those people who have caused disturbances”.

“If people have caused damage to Commonwealth property, then they will be investigated and prosecuted in relation to those matters,” Peter Dutton said.

Ian Rintoul, of the Refugee Action Coalition group, said that Fazel Chegeni was “suffering the effects of long-term arbitrary detention”.

“He had told other detainees that he could no longer stand being in detention and just wanted <<to go outside>>,” Ian Rintoul said in a statement.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the unrest was inevitable, and described the centre as being in “meltdown”.

“I have spoken with people who are locked up in the centre and they say that there is widespread unrest and fires across the facility,” Sarah Hanson-Young said in a statement.

“With all Serco guards being removed from the center late last night, the people who are locked up there are being left to fend for themselves.”

Sarah Hanson-Young said she was concerned that asylum seekers had been locked up with other detainees, putting them “at risk”.

“The government was warned repeatedly about the increasingly toxic situation on Christmas Island but, regrettably, those warnings were ignored,” she said.

Australia sends intercepted asylum seekers to Christmas Island, Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the South Pacific.

The government says the journey the asylum seekers make by sea to reach Australia is dangerous and controlled by criminal gangs and they have a duty to stop it. Critics say opposition to asylum is often racially motivated and is damaging Australia’s reputation.

The policy was branded a “disaster” by Human Rights Watch’s Australia director in July. The group also raised concern over conditions at the Manus camp.

More than 50 people have been killed in Uribana prison riot in western Venezuela, hospital staff say.

The riot was triggered when local media broadcast news that soldiers had been sent to Uribana prison in Barquisimeto to search for weapons, Prisons Minister Iris Varela said.

Hospital director Ruy Medina told AFP news agency that some 90 people were injured, mostly from gunshot wounds.

The dead are thought to include inmates, guards and prison workers.

The director of Barquisimeto hospital, Ruy Medina, put the death toll at 54, Venezuela’s Clarin newspaper reported.

Venezuelan Human rights activist Carlos Nieto Palma said: “What should have been a normal procedure in any prison ended in a clash between National Guard [soldiers] and inmates.”

Carlos Nieto Palma added that Uribana prison was among the most dangerous in the country.

Urbina prison riot was triggered when local media broadcast news that soldiers had been sent to the prison in Barquisimeto to search for weapons

Urbina prison riot was triggered when local media broadcast news that soldiers had been sent to the prison in Barquisimeto to search for weapons

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles blamed the violence on “incompetent and irresponsible government”.

Venezuela’s prisons are blighted by overcrowding and the proliferation of weapons and drugs.

It appears that prisoners who had heard about the search in advance from news reports were waiting for the National Guard when they arrived.

It is thought that the search was aimed at disarming gangs within the prison and had been planned for some time, she reports.

There has been no official account of the incident or confirmation of the number of casualties, but the government says it will carry out a full investigation.

At least 38 inmates have died in Apodaca prison riot in northern Mexico.

Security officials said the inmates had either forced or bribed a number of guards to open the doors between two separate wings of the jail.

A fight broke out between the prisoners, in which the killings occurred.

Deadly prison fights between rival gangs are not uncommon in Mexico: last month 31 inmates were killed in similar circumstances in Tamaulipas state.

Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said inmates at the Apodaca prison had also set fire to mattresses and other flammable objects.

“Until now, we have counted 38 dead,” he said.

At least 38 inmates have died in Apodaca prison riot in northern Mexico

At least 38 inmates have died in Apodaca prison riot in northern Mexico

Jorge Domene said investigations were under way to establish the causes behind the fight, but that so far the evidence pointed towards a confrontation between rival gangs.

He said the security forces were now in control of the situation.

Relatives of the prisoners have gathered outside the prison, north of the city of Monterrey, to find out news about who has been killed and injured.

Jorge Domene asked them to be patient.

“We have more than 3,000 inmates in this jail and we have to account for all of them first,” he said.

Mexican jails are notorious for overcrowding, corruption and rioting.

In January, 31 inmates were killed at a prison in Altamira, in Tamaulipas state, when rival gangs confronted each other with homemade weapons and knives.