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21 die in riot at Mexico jail

Rival gangs exchange gunfire in Reynosa. Troops restore calm.

October 21, 2008|From Times Wire Services

REYNOSA, MEXICO — At least 21 inmates died Monday in a prison riot across the border from McAllen, Texas, as rival gangs fought a gun battle and set fire to the building.

"There was a shootout and then a fire. There are charred bodies among the dead," said a spokesman at the local attorney general's office who declined to be named.

Heavily armed soldiers quelled the fight and surrounded the prison, and anti-riot police wearing body armor patrolled the rooftops to prevent further disturbances.

Tamaulipas state auth- orities suspended the prison director and guards pending an investigation.

Anxious relatives of inmates gathered outside to demand information, at one point kicking the prison gates. Some threw stones at the prison's administrative offices, break- ing windows, and taunted police, ripping one official's clothing.

Authorities did not give details on the condition of eight prisoners who were injured, saying only that they had been taken to the hospital.

Last month, two riots at La Mesa state prison in Tijuana killed at least 23 inmates, including two from the U.S.

La Mesa prisoners alleged that officials weren't giving them food and water, but prison officials blamed the violence on troublemakers.

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