Police in Guatemala rescue 4 from rioting jail inmates

Divya Kishore
Guatemala children's shelter

Police in Guatemala rescued four hostages from a youth detention centre, where a riot broke out on Sunday (19 March). One of the four rescued guards has died while two others are critically injured.

Prisoners at the Etapa II centre, notably the 18th Street Gang, in the capital city of Guatemala reportedly started the disturbance, reports the BBC.

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The riot began when the inmates of the detention centre took control of the compound after family visiting hours. They reportedly killed one guard and shot another.

Inmates set mattresses ablaze and climbed to the roof of the detention centre to escape. The rioters, however, surrendered on Monday afternoon.

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According to reports, the rioting inmates wanted authorities to shift fellow gang members held at other prisons to Etapa II. They apparently also demanded the right to cook their own meals or bring food from outside at the detention centre.

BBC quoted witnesses as saying that the members of the 18th Street Gang also threatened to kill members of the rival gang Paisas if they declined to participate in the riot.

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Guatemala prison

The latest prison riot comes two weeks after a deadly fire broke out at a Guatemala shelter home for abused children and teenagers, which killed about 40 girls. The residents at the shelter were reportedly protesting against poor living conditions and overcrowded rooms when the fire broke out.

Activists say the two incidents highlight the disturbing condition of children's and youth services in Guatemala.

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