Grenade explodes during birthday party in Venezuelan prison; 2 dead

SAN JUAN DE LOS MORROS, Venezuela, Sept. 15 (UPI) — A grenade exploded during a birthday party in a Venezuelan prison partially controlled by inmates on Wednesday, killing at least two people and injuring 27.

The incident occurred at about noon in the General Penitentiary of Venezuela in the Guarico state, Venezuela’s Ministry of Interior said in a statement. There were several events scheduled within the prison on Wednesday, including conjugal visits, a soccer tournament and a birthday party for the “pran” — or inmate boss in charge of prison operations.

Although the explosion caused panic in the prison, leading to a partial shutdown for two hours, the birthday festivities resumed after a body was removed from the scene and the injured were taken to the nearby Hospital Israel Ranuarez Balza in San Juan de los Morros.

Inmates and relatives of inmates told El Nacional that the person who detonated the grenade, the first fatality, did so accidentally because he did not know what he was doing. The second fatality, prison worker Ismenia Polanco, succumbed to her injuries at the hospital.

Many prisons in Venezuela are controlled by gangs because of overpopulation, which has spawned prisons so dangerous the Venezuelan government has had to vacate from within due to the danger or lack of resources.

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