COVID-19 sparks prison riots in Colombia

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Panic over the spread of the coronavirus sparked a prison riot in Colombia on Sunday that killed 23 inmates.
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Panic over the spread of the coronavirus sparked a prison riot in Colombia on Sunday that killed 23 inmates.

Rioting swept through the crowded jail overnight in the Colombian capital, Bogota, amid rising tensions over the virus in the penitentiary system.

Justice Minister Margarita Cabello described the violence as an attempted mass breakout, part of what she said was a coordinated inmate plan that caused disturbances in 13 jails across the country. The minister rejected accusations by rights groups that the riots were sparked by unsanitary conditions inside a prison system that is woefully unprepared to face the coronavirus pandemic.

“There is no health problem that would have caused the escape plan and these riots,” Cabello said.

“Today, there is not a single infection, and no prisoners, nor administration or custodial officials, that have the coronavirus.”

The violence occurred as the capital was on a weekend lockdown to test the readiness of its 7 million population to cope with the pandemic.

Colombia President Ivan Duque said the country, which had 231 cases and two deaths on Sunday, would enter a 19-day lockdown from midnight today.


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