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13 die during Honduran prison riot

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - At least 13 people died during an uprising by armed inmates at a Honduran prison on Thursday, including one who was decapitated and others killed by a fire started by the rioters, authorities said.

The unrest came six weeks after a fire at another prison in Honduras killed 361 inmates. A fire official said the toll from the latest blaze could rise.

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Yair Mesa, police commissioner of the rough northern city of San Pedro Sula, said Thursday’s riot had been brought under control.

“The uprising has been put down without the need to fire shots,’’ Mesa said by telephone from inside the prison.

But national fire chief Alfonso Medina said one part of the prison was still under control of inmates armed with grenades.

San Pedro Sula Bishop Romulo Emiliani arrived outside the prison, saying he had been asked to serve as a negotiator with the inmates.

Emiliani voiced the prevailing view that such tragedies are bound to recur in Honduras’s overcrowded prison system.

“Everybody has known for some time that the authorities have no interest in the prisons,’’ he said. “They are a time bomb that will continue to explode.’’

In 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, Honduras’s prison system had nearly 38 percent more prisoners than it was built to house.

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