22 Dead In Prison Break Attempt In Durango, Mexico

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By Jill Heller | December 20, 2012 5:05 AM EST

At least 22 people were killed in a shootout at a prison in Durango, Mexico on Tuesday, when a group of inmates attempted to escape, resulting in the deaths of 13 inmates and nine guards, reported Reuters.

According to the Durango state Public Safety Department, the violent chain of events began at around 5 p.m. when inmates at the Cereso No. 2 prison in the city of Gomez Palacio began rioting, and attempted to climb over the facility's back walls. Prison guards fired shots into the air to suppress the riot, prompting a firefight between the prisoners and them; the inmates, in turn, fired guns at the guard towers.

In a statement, the Public Safety Department, described the incident as a "massive prison break," writing that the firefight began when "the inmates started to shoot with firearms toward the guard towers and the guard ares." Officials said that when the shots provoked no response from the prisoners, guards then "exchanged gunfire." Military troops were called in to assist and surrounded the prison, helping to stop the prisoners from fleeing the penitentiary, CNN reported.

The statement said that authorities had regained control of the prison, and that officials were working to investigate who was responsible for the break. Mexico is no stranger to mass prison breaks: in September, over 120 prisoners escaped from a facility near the Texas border, in Piedras Negras; in 2011, 11 inmates were killed during a similarly attempted break; and in 2010, Mexico's attorney general's office claimed that prisoners had been deliberately let out of the Cereso No. 2 prison to participate in an attack on a rival drug gang that left 17 people dead.

As in that crime, Mexican officials linked the attempted jailbreak to drug cartels in need of soldiers to fight in battles over disputed territory.

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