Venezuela prison brawl toll rises to 26
Caracas: The toll in last weekend`s battle between heavily armed inmate gangs at the Yare I prison near Caracas has risen to 26, said authorities.
The initial casualty report, issued on Monday, spoke of 25 dead and 43 injured.
Among those killed in Sunday`s confrontation was an inmate`s relative who was at the prison for visiting day.
The process of identifying the bodies was completed on Wednesday, the Prisons Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry offered no information on the condition of the 43 people hurt in the incident, including 14 visiting family members.
Authorities suspect the fight began when someone fired a shot as leaders of the rival gangs were holding a discussion, Prisons Minister Iris Varela said earlier this week.
The initial investigation also points to culpability on the part of both uniformed and civilian prison personnel and some inmates` relatives, Varela said.
"Those who put the guns here in the prison are just as responsible for the deaths as the people who pulled the triggers," she said, promising a "good investigation".
The penitentiary is located in the town of Yare, about 70 km south of Caracas.
The Venezuelan government says the serious problem with weapons inside the country`s vastly overcrowded prisons will be addressed as part of a restructuring of the penal system.
Violence in the Andean nation`s prisons claimed 304 lives in the first half of the year, an increase of 15 percent over the same period in 2011, the independent Venezuelan Prisons Observatory said on Monday.
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