Coronavirus: Colombia foils jail break attempt amid contagion fears

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image copyrightEPA
image captionThe jail in Villavicencio is at the centre of one of the worst outbreaks in Colombia

Guards have foiled an attempted jail break and riot at a prison in central Colombia which has hundreds of cases of coronavirus, officials say.

Seven inmates tried to dig a tunnel out of one of the cells at a jail in Villavicencio, guards said. Home-made weapons that were going to be used in an uprising have been seized, they add.

The jail has 314 coronavirus cases, the highest number of any Colombian prison.

Inmates have protested about the high risk they run of contracting the virus.

Among the more than 300 people who tested positive at the jail are both guards and prisoners.

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Villavicencio jail has more than 1,700 prisoners and is severely overcrowded, according to the prison authorities.

image copyrightEPA
image captionBoth guards and inmates as well as a prison cook have tested positive for coronavirus

The prison authorities gave little detail about the tunnel that was under construction but they did release a photograph of the weapons they seized.

image copyrightInpec
image captionGuards seized dozens of home-made weapons as well as four mobile phones

Tension has been running high in Colombian prisons amid the coronavirus outbreak.

A month ago, more than 20 inmates were killed when rioting broke out in one of the country's largest prisons, La Modelo, in Bogotá.

The government has decreed that thousands of the most vulnerable prisoners be temporarily moved into house arrest but so far only a handful have been moved.

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