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44 KILLED IN PRISON RIOT; Inmates capture guard.

Byline: MIRROR REPORTER

A PRISON riot in Mexico left about 44 people dead yesterday, a security official claimed.

Nuevo Leon state spokesman Jorge Domene Zambrano said the violence broke out at about 2am.

He added authorities at the state prosecutor's office reported 40 dead.

The official said a group of inmates in one cell block started to riot and took a guard hostage.

The riot then spread to a second cell block.

He added authorities regained control within a couple of hours.

Distraught families of the prisoners gathered yesterday morning outside the jail in Apodaca outside the northern city of Monterrey, seeking word of the victims.

Deadly fights happen periodically in Mexican prisons.

Gangs and drug cartels stage jail breaks and battle for control of penitentiaries, often with the involvement of officials. A total of 31 prisoners died in January in a riot in the city of Altimara in Tamaulipas state, which borders Texas.

Another jail fight in Matamoros last October left 20 inmates dead and 12 injured.

In July, the death toll in a prison riot in Juarez reached 17. Mexican authorities detained the director and four guards over that clash.

Surveillance video showed two inmates opening doors to let armed prisoners into a room where the slain victims were holding a party.

Twenty-three people died in a Durango city jail riot in 2010, and a 2009 riot in Gomez Palacio left 19 dead.

CAPTION(S):

VIOLENT Prisoners attack security fence after riot in Apodaca prison yesterday ANGUISH Relatives
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 20, 2012
Words:250
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