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Venezuelan government faces criticisms for handling of overcrowded prisons after bloody clash

  • f8fab7662877bf03270f6a70670086ec.jpg

    An injured prison inmate is carried into the hospital in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. A bloody riot erupted at the Uribana prison in the central Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto Friday when National Guard troops clashed with inmates. Venezuelan media reported that dozens were killed. It was the latest in a series of bloody riots in the country's prisons.(AP Photo/Alexander Sanchez/El Informador) (The Associated Press)

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    An injured prison inmate is escorted by a policeman into the hospital in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. A bloody riot erupted at the Uribana prison in the central Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto Friday when National Guard troops clashed with inmates, and Venezuelan media reported that dozens were killed. It was the latest in a series of bloody riots in the countrie's prisons.(AP Photo/Rafael Rodriguez/El Informador) (The Associated Press)

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    Relatives of inmates react outside the Uribana prison in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. A bloody riot erupted at the Uribana prison in the central Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto Friday when National Guard troops clashed with inmates. Venezuelan media reported that dozens were killed. It was the latest in a series of bloody riots in the country's prisons.(AP Photo/Roger Varela/El Informador) (The Associated Press)

Venezuela's government is facing mounting criticisms from activists and the U.N. human rights office for its handling of overcrowded and violent prisons following a clash between inmates and troops that left at least 58 dead.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed concern about what he called "an alarming pattern of violence in Venezuelan prisons, which is a direct consequence of poor conditions." He made the remarks at a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro defended the Venezuelan government's efforts and said the "first steps" are being taken to improve the country's prisons.

The government has said that 58 people were killed on Friday at Uribana prison in the city of Barquisimeto when armed inmates clashed with National Guard troops.