Captives Released

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Four armed inmates released a captive prison administrator, his secretary and two female guards on Wednesday in Western Honduras, responding to pleas from a priest and relatives of the hostages.

The inmates, who held the hostages for more than a day, gave up on demands for a getaway car and agreed to turn over their weapons and return to their cells, said Wilmer Torres, the spokesman for the Security Ministry.

A Roman Catholic priest and family members of the captors were sent into the prison and successfully convinced the inmates to end the standoff peacefully.

Prison administrator Horacio Arqueta and the others were taken captive at about noon Tuesday at La Esperanza state prison, Torres said.

The prisoners grabbed Arqueta’s pistol near the main entrance, and then shot and wounded a male guard.

The prison is located in the middle of the town of La Esperanza, near the border with El Salvador. During the standoff, surrounding streets were closed off as sharpshooters took up positions in prison towers and on surrounding buildings.

Prison official Pedro Antonio Reyes said the captors broke into a storage room and armed themselves with guns and bulletproof vests. The rest of the 160 prisoners were kept under guard.

One of the captors, Darwin Alexis Martinez, who has served two years of a nine-year sentence for robbery and homicide, said that the prisoners were angry about their conditions.

“We don’t get visitors, we eat beans and tortillas every day, and I’ve had the same clothes for 24 months,” he said. “We never thought of hurting the hostages or anyone else.”

Most of Honduras’ 24 prisons, home to about 12,000 inmates, are poorly guarded and are the site of frequent escapes, killings and riots. More than 400 prisoners have died in their cells in the last seven years.

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