8 Dead in Argentina Prison Riot

Hundreds of security forces surrounded an Argentine prison Friday in a tense standoff with 2,000 inmates who overpowered guards, taking about two dozen of them hostage, including the warden. At least eight people were killed.

The uprising at the San Martin (search) maximum-security penitentiary in the province of Cordoba (search) in central Argentina began Thursday during visiting hours and spread rapidly through several pavilions of the drab compound.

The prisoners took about 25 hostages, including guards and the warden. The dead included at least five inmates, two guards and one police officer, authorities said.

At least nine security officers were wounded by gunfire and 15 suffered minor injuries, police told the local news agency Diarios y Noticias (search).

Local reports said inmates' relatives, including women and children, were trapped inside when the riot began. But 13 people — five guards, five women and three children — were reported released Friday as negotiations progressed, according to news accounts.

President Nestor Kirchner deployed national guardsmen to the scene, about 450 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.

The violence began over demands for more visitation rights and improved living conditions, local reports said.

Cordoba's governor, Jose Manuel de la Sota, said he would not allow "delinquents and criminals" to dictate terms of a final surrender as he pressed for a peaceful conclusion.

News video showed inmates late Thursday on the prison's roof, wielding homemade knives while holding hostages, including one man in a bloodied shirt. Shots rang out intermittently as the rioters threw rocks at police sheltering behind plastic shields and threatened to push a captive guard off the rooftop.

Authorities said inmates, in overpowering the guards, had gotten hold of their weapons and taken other arms from a storage area.

Gustavo Vidal Lascano, attorney general of Cordoba province, confirmed that the warden was among the hostages and said three inmates were killed while trying to escape