Human rights organisations say prisons in Venezuela are badly overcrowded and violent [File: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]
A prison riot in the western Venezuelan state of Portuguesa has left at least 46 people dead and 60 injured, according to a rights group and an opposition lawmaker.
Beatriz Giron, director of the Venezuelan Observatory of Prisons which advocates for inmates’ rights, said 46 bodies had been identified after the incident on Friday at the Los Llanos penitentiary.
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The country’s prisons minister, Iris Varela, told local newspaper Ultimas Noticias on Friday that the incident resulted from an escape attempt and that the prison director had been shot and wounded. She did not give a death toll, and Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Maria Beatriz Martinez, an opposition lawmaker from Portuguesa, said the riot followed a ban on inmates’ family members bringing them food during visitation, which is common in Venezuelan prisons.
The visitation restrictions are part of the country’s effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in its overcrowded prisons.
To date, Venezuela has confirmed 335 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths associated with COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the pathogen.
A once-wealthy oil nation, Venezuela is gripped by a deepening political and economic crisis. Street violence is common in the nation that has had nearly 5 million residents flee in recent years as public services crumble.
Venezuela has roughly 30 prisons and 500 jails that can hold an estimated 110,000 inmates. Human rights officials say the prisons are violent and badly overcrowded, with gangs that traffic weapons and drugs in control.
According to the human rights group Venezuelan Prison Observatory, the Guanare prison was built to hold 750 inmates but is jammed beyond capacity with 2,500 inmates.
A similar riot occurred a year ago in a nearby jail also in the state of Portuguese, where 29 inmates died at a police jail that housed several hundred detainees. Violence broke out when armed inmates objected to officers entering the jail.
Al Jazeera and news agencies
Dozens killed in fighting in Afghanistan as peace talks continue |NationalTribune.com
Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban left dozens dead in a restive eastern province as negotiators from both sides pushed ahead with peace talks in Qatar. Overnight clashes erupted in three districts of Nangarhar province when Taliban fighters attacked several checkpoints of Afghan forces and pro-government fighters, Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor…
Fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban left dozens dead in a restive eastern province as negotiators from both sides pushed ahead with peace talks in Qatar.
Overnight clashes erupted in three districts of Nangarhar province when Taliban fighters attacked several checkpoints of Afghan forces and pro-government fighters, Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar governor told the AFP news agency on Thursday.
He said at least 11 Afghan security personnel were killed in fighting in Hesarak, while eight pro-government fighters were killed in Khogyani district.
The official added that about 30 Taliban fighters died in the clashes.
The Taliban has not commented on the fighting so far.
“There have been no attacks from our side … The enemies continue to attack and spill the blood of Afghans,” Afghanistan’s acting Minister of Defense Asadullah Khalid said.
The latest fighting comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are engaged in talks in Doha aimed at ending the long-running conflict.
Representatives from the Afghan government and the Taliban started face-to-face talks on Monday after months of delay over a contentious prisoners swap agreement between the two sides.
The negotiations are a result of a deal between the Taliban and the United States signed in February, which also paved the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces by May 2021.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said although the talks raise hopes of the war ending in the country, many challenges remain.
“This is a new phase in diplomacy for peace in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said last week.
“These negotiations are an important achievement, but there are … significant challenges on the way to reaching an agreement.”
Al Jazeera and news agencies
Dozens feared trapped in building collapse in India’s Maharashtra |NationalTribune.com
One person has died and at least 100 feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western India’s Maharashtra state, officials said. Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Raigad district’s Mahad town, about 165km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were…
One person has died and at least 100 feared trapped in the debris of a five-storey building that collapsed in an industrial town in western India’s Maharashtra state, officials said.
Not all the roughly 200 residents of the building in Raigad district’s Mahad town, about 165km (100 miles) south of India’s financial capital Mumbai, were at home when it crumbled in the evening, local legislator Bharatshet Maruti Gogawale told the Reuters news agency on Monday.
India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) spokesman Sachidanand Gawde told reporters that emergency workers had retrieved the body of one victim, who has not yet been identified.
“I believe about 100 to 125 people must have been inside at the time of its collapse,” Gogawale, who was present at the accident site, told Reuters.
The building was comprised of 47 flats, police officials in Mahad said in a statement.
Local residents and police combed through tin sheets, metal rods and other wreckage in a desperate search for survivors as ambulances ferried victims to nearby hospitals.
Authorities said more than two dozen people were pulled out by rescue teams and taken to hospital amid heavy monsoon rains.
NDRF rescue teams and canine squads were deployed to the scene of the accident.
An unnamed official with the Maharashtra state Disaster Management Unit later told the Press Trust of India that at least 51 people were missing.
A man removes the debris after a five-storey building collapsed in Raigad in the western state of Maharashtra [Reuters]
Former Mahad legislator Manik Motiram Jagtap told the local TV9 Marathi channel that the structure was 10 years old and built on “weak” foundations.
“It fell like a house of cards,” he said. “It is a scary situation.”
The office of Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra state, said on Twitter that he had been in touch with local representatives in the area.
“He has assured them that all possible support will be extended for speedy rescue and relief works,” the tweet said.
The cause of the accident was not clear. But building collapses are common in India, usually due to shoddy construction, substandard materials and disregard of regulations.
More than 1,200 people were killed in 1,161 building collapses across India in 2017, according to latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
Many of these accidents occur between June and September during the monsoon season, which plays a vital role in boosting agricultural harvests across South Asia.
But the monsoon season also causes widespread death and destruction, unleashing floods, triggering building collapses and inundating low-lying villages.
The death toll from monsoon-related disasters this year has topped 1,200, including more than 800 lives lost in India alone, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.
Dozens killed in separate Burkina Faso attacks |NationalTribune.com
In this file photo from 2015, soldiers guard positions near the Naaba Koom military base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso [Arnaud Brunet/Reuters] An armed group in Burkina Faso attacked a cattle market and a humanitarian convoy, killing at least 35 people, the government said on Sunday. Twenty-five people were killed and more wounded in the attack…
In this file photo from 2015, soldiers guard positions near the Naaba Koom military base in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso [Arnaud Brunet/Reuters]
An armed group in Burkina Faso attacked a cattle market and a humanitarian convoy, killing at least 35 people, the government said on Sunday.
Twenty-five people were killed and more wounded in the attack on the market in the eastern village of Kompienga, while five civilians and five military police were killed near the northern village of Foube, the government said in a statement.
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Armed groups “targeted a humanitarian convoy returning from Foube after delivering supplies”, it said.
A further 20 people were wounded in the convoy attack, it said.
No group has claimed responsibility.
Saturday’s violence underscores deep instability in parts of Burkina Faso, which has been battling armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) since 2017.
Hundreds have been killed in the past year in the Sahel nation, and more than half a million people have fled their homes due to the violence, which has also raised ethnic and religious tensions.
The bloodshed follows the death of at least 15 people on Friday in an attack on a convoy transporting traders in northern Burkina Faso. That attack, in Loroum province, was also blamed on armed groups.
In the past five years, more than 900 people have been killed by armed groups, while some 860,000 people have fled their homes.
The Sahel country is part of a regional effort to battle an armed uprising along with Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad. Their militaries, under-equipped and poorly trained, are supported by 5,000 French troops in the region. Unrest in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger killed approximately 4,000 people last year, according to UN figures.
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