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More than 20 killed as clashes break out in Venezuela prison

More than 20 people died in clashes between armed gangs at a Venezuelan prison over the weekend, a government official was quoted as saying on Monday. 

Prisons Minister Iris Varela said on state television that "more than 20" had died in the Yare I prison in the coastal state of Miranda, including family members who had been visiting when the violence broke out on Sunday, El Economista reported. (Link to story in Spanish)

Most of the dead, however, were members of two groups that are "heavily armed inside the prison," the minister was quoted as saying.

Those behind the killings will be "made to answer" for their actions, Varela said, according to the BBC.

AFP quoted the Venezuelan Prison Observatory, a non-governmental group, as saying that more than 300 inmates have been killed in the country's prisons since the start of the year. More than 500 died in 2011, the BBC reported, citing the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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According to government figures, 50,000 prisoners are housed in a system built for 14,000 inmates, AFP added. 

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