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Riot in Argentine prison after virus case confirmed

Inmates burn a mattress at Villa Devoto prison in Buenos Aires on April 24 during a riot demanding measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus
Inmates burn a mattress at Villa Devoto prison in Buenos Aires on April 24 during a riot demanding measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus Juan Mabromata AFP
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Buenos Aires (AFP)

Dozens of prisoners at a jail in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires rioted on Friday demanding urgent health measures after confirmation of a coronavirus case inside the facility.

Police surrounded the prison, which holds around 2,200 inmates, as explosions were heard, AFP reporters at the scene said.

A group of prisoners managed to climb onto a roof, burn mattresses and throw objects at security guards trying to quell the uprising.

Authorities have yet to comment on the riot or whether there are any injuries.

Inmates could be heard shouting demands for a judge to hear their case and for better protection against the pandemic, just a few days after a warden at the Villa Devoto prison was confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.

"COVID-19 in Devoto, genocidal judges," read a banner hung from the prison roof. "We refuse to die in prison," read another.

Several other riots broke out in prisons last week, including in Florencio Varela in Buenos Aires province where one inmate died and 20 were injured.

Argentina has been in lockdown since March 20 and has recorded more than 3,400 coronavirus cases and 167 deaths.

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