Maputo — Mozambique's National Prison Service (SERNAP) has set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the causes of the violent disturbances on Wednesday morning in the Northern Regional Penitentiary in the city of Nampula.
The prison riot led to the deaths of three prisoners, and injuries to seven inmates and two prison guards.
During a meeting in Maputo of the Coordinating Council of the Ministry of Justice, the general director of SERNAP, Jeremias Cumbe, told reporters that the commission of inquiry has already been sent to Nampula.
He promised that the results of the inquiry will be made public once the commission has returned to Maputo.
Cumbe said this was the first major riot SERNAP has had to face, but he insisted that the prison service is equipped to handle such situations.
According to prison sources, the riot started during a routine morning round in one of the pavilions holding about 200 inmates. A smoke grenade carried by one of the guards was accidentally dropped, releasing an intense cloud of smoke.
In the ensuing confusion, many prisoners left the pavilions and attacked other parts of the prison, including the health post. The rioters also set fire to the administrative offices where he case files of all the prisoners are kept.
Asked if the Nampula prison held any of those arrested in connection with the islamist insurgency in the neighbouring province of Cabo Delgado, Cumbe denied such reports. He said that, although the prison has inmates from all over the northern provinces, they did not include people accused of crimes relating to the Cabo Delgado attacks.