At least 13 people have been killed during a prison brawl in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, local authorities say.
The fighting inside the Cadereyta Prison on the outskirts of the city of Monterrey broke out overnight on Tuesday following a protest by inmates, according to official accounts, who said security forces had to be dispatched to quell the violence.
Concerned relatives gathered outside the prison facility early on Wednesday trying to find news about their captive family members.
Nuevo Leon State security spokesman Aldo Fasci announced in a press briefing that initially, a protest by prisoners went out of control overnight, during which an inmate was killed and several guards were grabbed as hostages.
He added, however, that as police forces were sent in to end the situation, clashes soon intensified into a riot involving nearly 250 prisoners.
“Around five in the afternoon, the decision was made by security forces to use lethal force to prevent the murder of guards as well as stop the murder of inmates,” Fasci said. “If we had not taken this decision, we would be talking about many more deaths [now].”
The official further said that it was not immediately clear how many people had been killed during the fighting and how many had been shot dead by police forces. He also did not specify how many of the victims had been prisoners and how many police forces.
He said eight people had also been wounded.
In July, at least nine inmates were killed in a prison brawl in the state of Tamaulipas on the US border with Texas and at least 28 more prisoners died during a battle inside a prison in the Pacific resort of Acapulco.
Deadly fights in Mexico’s overcrowded prison facilities are often fueled by rival gang members that have been involved in drug trafficking, human smuggling, fuel theft, kidnapping and extortion.