(Changes dateline to May 26)


An official of the Andean Region Penitentiary Center, or CPRA, in the western Venezuelan state of Merida, died after being shot six times by two men who intercepted her as she was on her way home, the daily Panorama said.

"The shooting victim was identified by the CICPC investigative police as Roxanne Paola Molina Avila, 40, an attorney and head of CPRA human resources," the daily's online edition said Friday, adding that the victim was driving her own car.

After the shooting, Molina was taken to the University of the Andes Hospital in the city of Merida, where she died eight hours later.

Efe tried unsuccessfully to contact spokespersons of the Penitentiary Service Ministry for an official account of what happened.

The director of the non-governmental Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, or OVP, Humberto Prado, told Efe that he has requested "an immediate, exhaustive and impartial investigation by the Attorney General's Office" into this murder and those of other prison officials, which, he said, have never been solved.

Earlier this week, the Venezuelan government announced a ban on bringing food into two of the nation's prisons and ratified the suspension of overnight stays by visitors following the crisis at a Caracas jail that took an official toll of one person killed, though local media said there were nine.

The government has admitted it has "a grave problem" of weapons and many other items being smuggled into jail cells, but said it is attempting to restructure the prison system.

According to the OVP, during 2011 at least 560 people were killed and 1,457 wounded in violent incidents in the country's 35 jails, which together have a 360-percent overcrowding rate. EFE