2 guards killed in riot at Guatemalan youth detention center

Juvenile delinquents held in the Juvenile Center for the Deprivation of Liberty Etapa II attempt to escape from the detention center in San José Pinula, a city on the outskirts of Guatemala City, on Sunday. Officials in Guatemala said the riot was started by the Barrio 18 gang, which demanded their fellow gang members be transferred to the prison they are in. Photo by Esteban Biba/EPA

March 20 (UPI) — Guatemala’s Interior Ministry on Monday said security forces have taken control of 80 percent of the Etapa II youth detention center, where two guards were killed following a riot.

The Interior Ministry said the National Civil Police is communicating with the rioters amid security operations. Four other guards were injured and were being held hostage by the inmates at the detention center in San José Pinula, which is near Guatemala City.

Guatemalan officials said the riot was started Sunday morning by members of the Barrio 18 gang after relatives visited inmates. The Barrio 18 gang demanded fellow gang members held in the Youth Center for Interim Detention be transferred to Etapa II.

The inmates threatened to kill another guard, possibly by burning him, if their demands are not met, Prensa Libre reported. Police officials said 45 inmates were leading the riot. About 125 members of a separate gang known as Paisas were not participating in the riot.

In the riot, the detained juveniles set fire to mattresses and attempted to escape the detention center through the roof of buildings after taking guards hostage.

The riot in the Juvenile Center for the Deprivation of Liberty Etapa II follows a fire on March 11 at the Virgen de la Asunción shelter for girls, also in San José Pinula, where at least 40 girls died.

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