Hundreds leave Venezuelan prison amid standoff

Venezuela's top prisons official says about 300 inmates have left a troubled penitentiary where a three-week standoff by a group of armed inmates has prevented authorities from retaking control of the facility.

Prisons minister Iris Varela says inmates have been steadily leaving La Planta prison to be transferred to other penitentiaries.

The inmates began filing out on Thursday hours after heavy gunfire erupted inside the prison. Authorities have been trying to persuade members of the armed group inside La Planta to leave so it can be closed.

Varela says that if inmates continue to leave as she hopes, the prison could be cleared out on Friday.