At least 17 dead and nine wounded , including the director of the prison, left a riot in a prison in Venezuela on Friday , according to a military report to which AFP had access.

At the Los Llanos Penitentiary Center , in the city of Guanare , "(a) disturbance of public order occurred", when the inmates broke "the perimeter security bars" in "an attempt to escape massively," the document said. So far 17 deaths and 9 injuries have been counted, but the number is "presumed" to be higher, he adds.

Center personnel, guarded by the military, tried to mediate with the 'leader' of the riot, but the prisoners lashed out at them, managing to "wound the prison director in the back with a penetrating puncture object , " the report said. A lieutenant was also injured by splinters from a grenade, according to the report.

"The conflict continues," Carolina Girón , of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory (OVP), an NGO defending the rights of prisoners , told AFP . Girón stated that the reason for the uprising is that "the prisoners are upset because they do not allow them to visit and they do not have food or water " in a prison with high overcrowding.

The capacity of the prison, according to the activist, is 750 inmates, but currently it has about 2,500 prisoners .

Following the quarantine declared in Venezuela in the coronavirus pandemic in March, family visits to inmates were prohibited by the Ministry of Prison Affairs. Prisoners often receive food and medicine from their loved ones.

The OVP documented 97 deaths in prisons in 2019 , 70% from diseases such as tuberculosis due to the lack of medicines and medical attention.

A Window to Freedom, another NGO that defends prisoners, last year counted another 192 deaths , in crowded police cells due to the lack of space in the prisons.

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