Inmates hold guards hostage in Rio prison riot

Prison fence
Prison fence. Photo credit: Getty

Inmates of a heavily overcrowded prison in metropolitan Rio de Janeiro have taken prison guards hostage during a riot.

Members of an elite SWAT unit, along with police, have formed a perimeter around the Milton Dias Moreira prison, where inmates began the riot on Sunday afternoon, according to an emailed statement from the Rio state penitentiary administration.

The email did not say how many people were taken hostage. It provided no information on any deaths or injuries at the prison, where more than 2000 inmates are crowded into a facility built for less than 900.

The incident is the latest in a string of deadly uprisings in Brazil's prisons, which experience endemic violence and are under the de facto control of powerful drug gangs.

On Friday, President Michel Temer ordered the military to take control of Rio’s state police force and its prisons, a decree that Congress must approve. It is expected to do so this week.