22 Jan 2010

Mexico jail fight leaves 23 inmates dead

5:48 am on 22 January 2010

At least 23 prisoners have been killed during a battle between rival drug gangs at a prison in Mexico.

Officials say the fighting broke out between inmates and new arrivals at the prison in the northern state of Durango.

Inmates stabbed rivals with makeshift spears sharpened with tools from the jail workshop and left victims bleeding from their chests and necks, state security forces said.

Officials at the Durango state attorney general's office said the brawl started at breakfast when prisoners linked to the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel clashed with new arrivals from the rival Gulf cartel and its armed wing, the Zetas.

Durango has become a battleground for rival cartels fighting over smuggling routes into the United States. Mexico's drug war has killed more than 17,000 people since late 2006.