17 Dead in Mexican Prison Ambush


Mexican authorities outside of prison where inmates escaped | Image by NBC

Ten guards and seven inmates were killed when gunmen in armored vehicles attacked a Mexican prison across the border from El Paso early Sunday.

Various armored vehicles arrived at the state prison in Ciudad Juarez — formally known as the Centro de Readaptación Social (Center for Social Readaptation, or CERESO) No.3 — at about 7 a.m. and started shooting at guards, the Chihuahua State Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.

At the same time, some inmates reportedly began rioting inside the prison, where several family members, including small children, were present for visiting hours. Inmates set fire to various objects and clashed with prison guards, local media reported.

Amid the chaos, an additional 13 people were wounded, and at least 27 inmates escaped, according to El Paso Matters.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, including municipal and state police, military, and the national guard responded and regained control of the prison later Sunday, the state prosecutor’s office said.

The state prosecutor’s office added that its personnel were investigating but did not provide details about how the 27 escaped inmates were able to break out.

It also is unclear who carried out the attack, though at least four people were detained, the office said, without specifying if they were inmates or armed assailants.

Just prior to the attack on the prison, city police were fired on by armed men in a nearby street. Four men were captured after a pursuit, according to the state prosecutor’s office statement. Later, in a different part of the city, police reportedly killed two alleged gunmen traveling in an SUV.

Local authorities have not said whether these shooting incidents and arrests are related to the prison attack.

Violence is comparatively common in Mexican prisons, where authorities only maintain nominal control in some prisons. Clashes regularly erupt among inmates in rival gangs, which in places like Ciudad Juarez serve as proxies for drug cartels.

The same state prison was the scene of a riot in August that spread to the streets of Juarez and left 11 people dead.

In that case, two inmates were killed inside the prison. Then, alleged gang members reportedly started shooting up the town, including killing four radio station employees who were doing a promotion at a restaurant.

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