Venezuelan inmates free hostages at prison: official


CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s top prison official said Tuesday that inmates who had seized more than 50 guards and other prison workers in the Tocuyito lockup have released the final 12 hostages, ending a weeks-long standoff in which prisoners were demanding transfers. Penitentiary Minister Iris Varela said the hostages were released after authorities vowed to transfer hundreds of prisoners to another facility. The prisoners took the hostages earlier this month, sparking a standoff that heightened tensions in the country’s severely overcrowded prison system where contraband such as guns and drugs are commonplace. Varela said inmates agreed to release the remaining hostages after authorities promised to return 400 prisoners to El Rodeo, where many of the rebellious prisoners had been locked up before their transfer earlier this year to Tocuyito.