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Honduras stops 500-plus crowd bent on burning down prison

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Tegucigalpa (AFP)

Police in Honduras stopped buses carrying some 500 gang members and relatives headed to a maximum security prison to set it on fire and help inmates escape, police said.

Others among the group had simply been paid to come along and help, police spokesman Luis Osavas said on Friday.

Police who stopped the 13 buses seized mortars, gasoline, tires and other material that was to have been used to ignite a fire at the Ilama prison in western Honduras.

Like other countries of Central America, Honduras is ravaged by powerful street gangs that fight each other for drug trafficking routes and carry out widespread violence on everyday people, such as kidnapping and extortion.

Last month 37 gang leaders considered to be very dangerous were transferred by helicopter to the Ilama prison.

Those leaders are being kept in high security cells and get out of them just one hour a day. Officials say they had been ordering killings and extortion from the prison where they were held before.

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