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31 killed in Mexican prison fight

A fight among inmates armed with makeshift knives, clubs and stones has left 31 people dead in a prison in a drug-plagued state in northern Mexico.

Another 13 prisoners were wounded in the brawl in the jail in the Gulf Coast city of Altamira, Tamaulipas state's Public Safety Department said in a statement.

The fight started when a group of inmates burst into a section of the prison they were banned from and attacked the prisoners housed there, the department said.

Local media said the fight was between members of the rival Gulf and Zetas drug cartels, but authorities would not confirm those reports. Tamaulipas state has been the scene of bloody turf battles between the two former allies.

State officials said many of the dead were killed with makeshift knives, while others were beaten to death.

Twenty-two of the inmates killed were serving sentences for state crimes and nine for federal offences.

The port of Altamira in southern Tamaulipas, near the border with the state of Veracruz, is in a region that has seen a spike in drug violence in the last two months. Authorities say the port is used to bring in cocaine and precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamine into Mexico.

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