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Friday, 6 January 2012

Prison battle in Mexico leaves at least 35 inmates dead

Wasif Chudhary

At least 31 inmates were killed and another dozen injured in pitched fighting inside a prison in Mexico's cartel-dominated Tamaulipas state, authorities said (link in Spanish).

Some of the dead were believed to be accused drug traffickers in what was described as a fight between rival gangs, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, housed at the prison in Altamira, a small city in the state that borders Texas.

Mexico's brutally overcrowded penitentiaries are plagued by numerous riots, deadly brawls and frequent, brazen escapes by dozens of inmates, often with the guards and even the odd warden in cahoots. By one count, 58 prisoners have been killed in the last three months.

The Altamira battle Wednesday followed reports that inmates in another jail near Mexico City were using Twitter accounts to denounce corruption by officials and, later, to beg for protection after having made the complaints (links in Spanish). The city's human rights commission said it would investigate.

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