Sixteen people died in a fight between rival gangs in a maximum security Guatemalan prison where security forces are still working to regain control, Deputy Interior Minister Elmer Sosa said Monday.
The perimeter of the Granja Penal Canada facility has been surrounded by army and police officers, Sosa said, adding that authorities had avoided entering the prison Sunday when the fight broke out amid reports that several inmates were carrying firearms.
The decision was meant to mitigate risk to security forces and other inmates, he said.
“We are coordinating an investigation into the death of 16 inmates with prosecutors,” Sosa told journalists, adding that the fight was believed to be due to a clash between rival gangs.
The maximum security prison is home to nearly 3,100 detainees and is located just 75 kilometers (47 miles) south of Guatemala City.