Six gang members died Monday (July 4th) at a high-security prison in northwestern Honduras in an “incident”, authorities said. “An incident occurred in the Ilama (El Pozo) penitentiary center, Santa Barbara, where the death of six prisoners was reported,” the Ministry of Security said in a statement, adding that the circumstances were in being examined.

Pedro Joaquin Amador, in charge of prisons in the government, told Agence France-Presse that the deceased all belonged to the Barrio 18 gang. Prison director Maron Largo told local media that the bodies had been found on the ground, wearing only underwear, in a building where members of this gang are locked up.

In recent days, “there had been no situation that could cause us alarm. The surprise was total,” he noted. This facility houses some 1,600 prisoners, nearly 600 of whom belong to the Barrio 18 gang.

Four of its members died and eleven were injured on January 27 during clashes with other detainees in El Porvenir prison, on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Some 22,000 people are locked up in around 30 prisons, some of which are described as veritable crime academies by the authorities of this Central American country.