A riot broke out in a penitentiary housing 2,000 prisoners in central Argentina late Thursday, leaving at least three inmates dead and two dozen guards hostage, authorities said.
Police said negotiations were being conducted early Friday in an attempt to peacefully end the violence. At least two inmates and two members of a prison security detail were seriously injured in the rioting, police said.
Television footage showed rampaging inmates on the prison's roof wielding homemade knives while holding hostages, including one man in a bloodied shirt. Shots rang out as the rioters cast rocks down at police sheltering behind plastic shields.
Police backed by national guardsmen ringed the maximum-security penitentiary, bidding to regain control as the mutiny continued into the early hours Friday.
Gustavo Vidal Lascano, attorney general of Cordoba province, said three inmates were killed while trying to escape. Television showed images of other inmates who had reportedly been captured while trying to flee.
Vidal also said the prison warden was reported among the hostages and that inmates had seized guns kept in a prison storage room, <i>The AP</i> reported.
Local reports said the violence erupted over inmate demands for better visitation rights and improved living conditions in the San Martin prison, located on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Cordoba, about 450 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.