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Over 100 weapons found after prison riot in Venezuela

Posted on Feb 08, 02:10PM | IANS

Caracas, Feb 8 : The Venezuelan government has announced that authorities confiscated 106 firearms, including rifles and submachine guns, ammunition and grenades, along with assorted illegal drugs, at the Uribana prison, where Jan 25 a riot by inmates resulted in the deaths of 58 people.

At a press conference Thursday, Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela, confirmed the 58 deaths at the prison in the western state of Lara and once again accused certain media outlets of reporting the inspection operation at the prison early and in a way that "manipulated" viewers, which included some prisoners.

The minister said that the riot broke out as the operation was "calmly" under way when "a violent group ... using weapons" saw news reports of the raid and attacked both prisoners and members of the National Guard because they did not want to lose their "booty".

Varela said that authorities seized 27 revolvers, 5 shotguns, 62 pistols, 4 submachine guns and 8 rifles at the facility.

They also seized several homemade weapons, along with 12 grenades, several dozen ammunition clips, 8,568 bullets of different calibers and an unspecified amount of cocaine and marijuana, she said.

Varela also said that the prisoners formerly housed at Uribana had been temporarily transferred to other facilities while the authorities carry out repair work, to be completed in about two months, whereupon the inmates will be returned to the site.

The non-governmental Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, or OVP, says that 63 people died in the riot.

According to the OVP, at least 591 inmates died and another 1,132 were wounded in 2012 in Venezuelan prison violence. That death toll is 5.53 percent higher than for the prior year.