Guns, grenades and deadly riots: The struggle for control of some of Central America’s most notorious prisons

It is one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence Honduras has faced within its long-troubled prison system.

It was a riot sparked when armed members of the Barrio 18 gang held back guards and attacked members of the rival Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), police said. The death toll in the country’s only dedicated women’s prison in Támara, near Tegucigalpa, the capital, had reached 46 by Wednesday, according to the public prosecutor’s office.

The gang members sprayed their rivals with gunfire, hacked them with machetes and then apparently locked survivors in their cells and doused them with flammable liquid, according to Juan Lopez Rochez, the chief of operations for the country’s National Police. “A group of armed people went to the cellblock of a rival gang, locked the doors, opened fire on those inside and apparently — this is still under investigation — used some kind of oil to set fire to them,” he added.

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