TEPIC, Mexico — A toll of at least 24 dead was counted after a two-day uprising by inmates at the Venustiano Carranza penitentiary here, officials said Saturday. The dead included Warden Samuel Alvarado, 31.
Police commandos put an end to the mutiny by storming the facility Friday night.
"There was a fierce gunfight lasting about 15 minutes before the special forces could quell the mutiny" said police officer Sergio Anzaldo, who was on duty when the commandos attacked the prison.
"It was quite violent," he added. At least six people were seriously wounded during the uprising.
Anzaldo said that 130 commandos flown in from Mexico City stormed the prison after a group of inmates had held 14 prison employees and visiting relatives hostage for 32 hours. The uprising began Thursday after the mutinous prisoners were denied pardons that are given at Christmas to inmates whose behavior has been good. An initial attempt to storm the prison Friday was repulsed.
The hostages were held in administrative offices, and most of the 1,200 inmates remained under control throughout the uprising on the outskirts of this state capital, 500 miles northwest of Mexico City.
At a news conference Saturday, state Atty. Gen. Rodolfo Leon said that police freed 19 hostages. Authorities are still trying to determine the exact number of prisoners who participated in the uprising and how many hostages had been held. Two police officers said that several hostages were among the dead.
Gov. Celso Humberto Delgado Ramirez of Nayarit state told reporters Saturday that the immediate deployment of 200 state police had kept hundreds of visiting relatives and officials from being trapped by the uprising, but some relatives were among the hostages.
Anzaldo said that Red Cross volunteers recovered the bodies after the assault and were not immediately sure about their identities.
"We are identifying the bodies which were found lying in the prison. We'll know for sure later who were hostages and who weren't," he said.
Earlier Friday, Jorge Armando Duarte, chief of a police commando squad, was shot dead when he entered the prison compound to try to talk the mutineers into surrendering. "The answer was a hail of bullets which killed him instantly," a state official said.
Afterward, police lobbed dozens of tear-gas shells into the penitentiary and rushed it with automatic weapons blazing, but their assault was turned back. A second assault not long before midnight put an end to the rebellion.
Alvarado died after a shoot-out Thursday, when about 10 inmates tried to seize the warden's office. He was wounded and bled to death.
State government spokesman Fernando Espinoza said authorities are investigating to try to find out "how firearms got into the prison."