A failed jailbreak has left 83 people injured and 23 inmates dead in Colombia's capital city of Bogota, the country's Justice Minister Margarita Cabello announced.

Among the injured are seven officials and prison guards belonging to the National Penitentiary and Prison Institute (INPEC). Two of the injured members are said to be in a critical condition, said Cabello

"Today is a very painful day for the country. Last night there was a massive and criminal attempt to escape from the La Modelo penitentiary," Xinhua news agency quoted Cabello as saying on Sunday.

Prison riots across the country

Also on Saturday night, riots occurred in several other prisons in Colombia as part of a large-scale scheme to break out of jail, said the Minister. "There were no escapes... there was a criminal plan to escape that was thwarted," she said.

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Representational Picture Wikimedia Commons

Cabello denied that the poor hygienic conditions in the prisons raised the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, and dismissed this as a concern for the inmates and the motive behind the riots. "There also are no sanitary problems that could have led to the plan or the riots. Today, there is not even a single case of infection, not an inmate, administrator or guard who has the coronavirus or who could be quarantined due to the coronavirus," she added.

Coronavirus scare prompts prison breaks and riots

Several cases of breakouts and riots have been reported across many countries, owing to the panic among prisoners over the coronavirus. It was recently reported the 1,500 prisoners from prisons in Sao Paulo escaped the inadequately guarded facilities.

Earlier this month, riots across several penitentiaries in Italy were reported due to strict preventive measures that were imposed to contain the spread of the disease. Massive violence erupted after the announcement of the suspension of the visitation rights of the prisoners over fears of the spread of COVID-19.

(With inputs from agencies)