CARACAS, Venezuela - A fight between inmates wielding homemade knives and machetes left 11 dead and 40 injured inside a maximum security prison in northcentral Venezuela, authorities said Friday. Dozens of National Guardsmen were dispatched to restore order at Yare II prison, located roughly 30 miles from Caracas. It was the third Venezuelan prison riot in the last 15 days. "We have 10 dead inside the prison, one of them decapitated," Fire Chief Denis De Lima told The Associated Press by telephone. "One died when he was being treated at the hospital." De Lima said the riot was a fight over territory disputed between rival prison gangs. The Interior Ministry’s Inmate Custody and Rehabilitation Director, Carlos Sutrun, told the state-run Venpres news agency that 40 inmates were transferred to nearby hospitals. Riots are common in Venezuela’s 32 overcrowded and understaffed prisons, where almost half the inmates are in pre-trial detention. On April 4, four prisoners died and 10 were injured by gunfire during fight between inmates at Uribana prison. Six days later, 15 inmates and a security guard were injured during a riot at Rodeo I prison.
There were 244 deaths and more than 1,200 injuries in prisons between Oct. 2001 and Sept. 2002, according to the U.S. State Department 2002 Human Rights Report. Most of the deaths resulted from fighting between prisoners, the report said.