At least 16 prisoners killed in Guatemala jail riot

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GUATEMALA CITY, Nov 30 (Reuters) - At least 16 prisoners were killed in a riot in an overcrowded Guatemalan prison on Sunday, and some of the inmates were armed with AK-47 assault rifles, officials said.

The clash was the latest in a string of deadly prison riots in the Central American country in recent years. The prison, about 40 miles (65 km) south of Guatemala's capital city, houses 3,092 prisoners but has capacity for just 600.

Relatives of prisoners wailed outside the jail, and some fainted, as bodies were carried out in black plastic bags bound for the morgue.

"All the dead are prisoners, we have ruled out any guards among the dead," Rudy Esquivel, spokesman for Guatemalas prison system, said on Monday. "The cause was a clash between them, we are still investigating."

Special police forces and the army were sent to take control of the prison on Sunday.

Guatemala awarded Mexican construction company ICA, which has been struggling under a heavy debt burden, a multi-million dollar contract to expand the prison late last year, according to official contract data. (Reporting by Sofia Menchu, writing by Elinor Comlay; Editing by Simon Gardner and Bernadette Baum)

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