Forty-nine inmates died during an overnight riot in a prison in the southwestern Colombian city of Tulua, the head of the national prisons agency said early on Tuesday.
“It is a tragic and disastrous event,” General Tito Castellanos, the head of the INPEC agency, told local Caracol Radio, adding that the prison had a total number of 1,267 inmates.
It was not immediately clear what caused the riot.
Colombian President Ivan Duque, who is on a visit to Portugal, said on Twitter the incident would be investigated.
“We regret the events in the prison in Tulua, Valle del Cauca. I am in touch with (General Tito Castellanos) and I have given instructions to carry forward investigations that allow us to clarify this terrible situation,” Duque said.
The Andean country released some prisoners during the coronavirus pandemic after some two dozen inmates were killed during protests in 2020 against crowded conditions and lack of services in jail.
Hundreds have died in prisons in neighboring Ecuador over the last year, in what the government there says is violence connected to drug gang competition and which it has failed to quell.