Venezuela arrests five police officials over deadly jail disaster

CARACAS - Venezuela arrested five state police officials for their alleged role in a riot and fire that killed 68 people in an overcrowded police station cell, the country's public prosecutor said on Saturday.

"The prosecutor's office has issued arrest warrants for five officials of PoliCarabobo who have been signaled as responsible for the tragic incident that led to the death of 68 citizens in the cells of the headquarters of said regional police: THEY HAVE BEEN DETAINED #Justice," tweeted prosecutor Tarek Saab.

Saab, a former Socialist Party governor close to leftist President Nicolas Maduro, did not provide any further details on the cause of the disaster, the worst to affect Venezuela's notoriously violent jails in over two decades.

Relatives of dead inmates and one surviving prisoner told Reuters there was a shoot-out with police on Wednesday morning in the jail in Carabobo state capital Valencia.

One inmate's widow said officials had doused the area with gasoline, which fueled a fire through the small cells strung with hammocks and divided with sheets.

There was no immediate comment from Carabobo state police.

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