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48 women are burned, shot or hacked to death with machetes in massacre at Honduras female prison | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


  • Gangs rioted at the prison in Tamara on Tuesday, about 30 miles from the capital
  • 26 victims were burned to death and the remainder were shot or stabbed 

At least 48 women have been burned, shot or hacked to death with machetes in a massacre at a Honduras female prison, where clashes between rival gangs sparked a fire, police said.

President Xiomara Castro said Tuesday’s riot in the town of Tamara, about 30 miles north-west of Honduras’ capital, was ‘planned by maras (street gangs) with the knowledge and acquiescence of security authorities’.

Castro pledged to take ‘drastic measures’ but did not explain how inmates identified as members of the Barrio 18 gang were able to get guns and machetes into the prison, or move into an adjoining cell block and slaughter all prisoners there.

Video presented by the government from inside the prison showed several pistols and a heap of machetes and other bladed weapons were found after the riot.

Sandra Rodríguez Vargas, assistant commissioner for Honduras’ prison system, said the attackers ‘removed’ guards at the facility – none appeared to have been injured – around 8am on Tuesday and opened the gates to an adjoining cell block and began massacring women there. They started a fire that left cell walls blackened and bunks reduced to twisted heaps of metal.

Gangs slaughtered 48 women, many of them burned, shot or stabbed to death, at a women’s prison in Honduras on Tuesday. Pictured: Police and military guarding the prison
The relative of an inmate reacts while others try to comfort her as they wait for news about their loved ones

Twenty-six of the victims were burned to death and the remainder shot or stabbed, said Yuri Mora, a spokesman for Honduras’ national police investigation agency. At least seven inmates were being treated at a Tegucigalpa hospital.

The riot appears to be the deadliest at a female detention center in Central America since 2017, when girls at a shelter for troubled youths in Guatemala set fire to mattresses to protest rapes and other mistreatment at the overcrowded institution. The smoke and fire killed 41 girls.

The worst prison disaster in a century also occurred in Honduras in 2012 at the Comayagua penitentiary, where 361 inmates died in a fire possibly caused by a match, cigarette or some other open flame.

There were ample warnings ahead of Tuesday’s tragedy, according to Johanna Paola Soriano Euceda, who was waiting outside the morgue in Tegucigalpa for news about her mother, Maribel Euceda, and sister, Karla Soriano. Both were on trial for drug trafficking but were held in the same area as convicted prisoners.

Soriano Euceda said they had told her on Sunday ‘they (Barrio 18 members) were out of control, they were fighting with them all the time. That was the last time we talked.’

Another woman, who did not want to give her name for fear of reprisals, said she was waiting for news about a friend, Alejandra Martínez, 26, who was being held in the ill-fated Cell Block One on robbery charges.

‘She told me the last time I saw her on Sunday that the (Barrio 18) people had threatened them, that they were going to kill them if they didn’t turn over a relative,’ she said.

Gangs sometimes demand victims ‘turn over’ a friend or relative by giving the gang their name, address and description, so enforcers can later find and kidnap, rob or kill them.

Relatives of inmates get into the Forensic Medic installations with the victims, after a fire following the brawl

Officials described the killings as a ‘terrorist act,’ but also acknowledged that gangs essentially had ruled some parts of the prison.

Julissa Villanueva, head of the prison system, suggested the riot started because of recent attempts by authorities to crack down on illicit activity inside prisons and called Tuesday’s violence a reaction to moves ‘we are taking against organised crime’.

‘We will not back down,’ Villanueva said in a televised address after the riot.

Gangs wield broad control inside the country’s prisons, where inmates often set their own rules and sell prohibited goods. They were also apparently able to smuggle in guns and other weapons, a recurring problem in Honduran prisons.

‘The issue is to prevent people from smuggling in drugs, grenades and firearms,’ said Honduran human rights expert Joaquin Mejia. ‘Today’s events show that they have not been able to do that.’

Meanwhile, the grim task continued of trying to identify the bodies, some terribly burned.

It had previously been reported that 41 women had died – although the public prosecutor’s office confirmed on Wednesday that the number has risen to 48.  

‘The forensic teams that are removing bodies confirm they have counted 41,’ said Mora earlier.

National Police officers then transferred members of the women’s prison after the brawl

The wait for news was torture for many families of inmates. Dozens of anxious, angry relatives gathered outside the rural prison.

‘We are here dying of anguish, of pain … we don’t have any information,’ said Salomón García, whose daughter is an inmate at the facility.

Azucena Martinez, whose daughter was also being held at the prison, said: ‘There are a lot of dead, 41 already. We don’t know if our relatives are also in there, dead.’

Tuesday’s riot may increase the pressure on Honduras to emulate the drastic zero-tolerance, no-privileges prisons set in up in neighboring El Salvador by President Nayib Bukele. 

While El Salvador’s crackdown on gangs has given rise to rights violations, it has also proved immensely popular in a country long terrorized by street gangs.

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