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MONTERREY, Mexico -- Fifty-two inmates were killed and 12 injured in a prison fire and a brutal fight between two rival factions in Nuevo Leon, Mexico on Thursday, the state governor said.
Rescue workers could be seen bringing injured inmates from the Topo Chico prison in Monterrey, at least some with burns. The riot broke out just six days before Pope Francis is scheduled to visit another Mexican prison, in the border city of Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua state.
Nuevo León state Gov. Jaime Rodriguez said the fight involved two factions led by a member of the Zetas drug cartel, Juan Pedro Zaldivar Farias, also known as "Z-27," and Jorge Ivan Hernandez Cantu, identified by Mexican media as a Gulf cartel figure.
Images broadcast by Milenio Television showed flames leaping from the prison, with a crowd of people bundled against the cold gathered outside the prison. Some shook and kicked at the prison gates, demanding to be allowed in.
The fire appeared to have been extinguished shortly after sunrise.
Witnesses said the fire broke out at about 12:30 a.m. CST amid shouts and sounds of explosions. A thick cloud of smoke rose, apparently from inmates burning mattresses.
Mexico's official National Human Rights Commission reported in 2013 that the country's prison system is plagued by violence and cases of inmate control, symptoms of corruption and lack of resources.