Argentine Inmates Take 6 Guards Hostage

BUENOS AIRES – Six guards were taken hostage by 38 inmates who rioted in a cell block at a prison in the western Argentine province of Mendoza, but no injuries have been reported, police said.

The riot at the Campo Cacheuta prison started Sunday evening in the maximum-security cell block, where inmates demanded better living conditions and a cell phone to negotiate with prison officials.

Two ambulances have been stationed outside the prison, which is in the town of Lujan de Cuyo, “as a precautionary measure,” Mendoza province police chief Juan Carlos Caleri told Buenos Aires radio stations.

The riot started “in a cell block built two or three years ago,” Caleri said, adding that there was no overcrowding at the facility.

Judge Maria Ines Vargas de Romero asked the inmates to release three of the hostages as a condition for starting negotiations, a demand that was rejected by the prisoners, who have not been in contact with officials since the early morning hours.

The Campo Cacheuta prison has been surrounded by members of elite police units from Mendoza city, located 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) from Buenos Aires, where penitentiaries have been improved in the past few years in the wake of allegations of overcrowding and abuse of inmates.

In May 2004, five inmates died and six others were wounded in a riot and fire at the Gustavo Andre prison, located 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Mendoza city, the provincial capital. EFE

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