World | Afghanistan

Rioting resumes in Afghan prison

Police fired at inmates trying to push down a gate at Kabul's main jail as about 2,000 prisoners resumed rioting on Tuesday after a 24-hour pause in violence. One inmate was killed and three injured, police said.

  • AP
  • Published: 00:00 March 1, 2006
  • Gulf News

Kabul: Police fired at inmates trying to push down a gate at Kabul's main jail as about 2,000 prisoners resumed rioting on Tuesday after a 24-hour pause in violence. One inmate was killed and three injured, police said.

The fighting restarted after negotiations broke down, said Abdul Halik, a police commander in the prison. He said authorities had urged the prisoners to move into a different wing of the jail but the inmates refused.

"The prisoners have tried to break down the door to their block and the police opened fire," Halik said. "One prisoner was shot dead and three were wounded." The death brings to five the number of people killed since the uprising started late on Saturday. Some 41 have been hurt.

Halik said the prisoners retreated inside the building after being shot at. Even if the prisoners had managed to flee their block, they would still have been inside the prison compound. A high wall and hundreds of police and soldiers would have prevented them from escaping.

A purported spokesman for the prisoners, who identified himself only by the name Maqsodi, told The Associated Press by mobile phone from inside the jail that the prisoners refused to move because living conditions were no better in the new block.

Policharki Prison was built in the 1970s and is notorious for harsh and crowded conditions.

Violence erupted late on Saturday after prisoners refused to put on new uniforms, delivered in response to a breakout last month by seven Taliban prisoners who had disguised themselves as visitors.

Police have blamed about 350 Taliban and Al Qaida detainees for inciting the riot. Seventeen of the most seriously wounded prisoners were rushed to a hospital earlier yesterday along with the bodies of four of the dead, after the prisoners agreed to halt the violence temporarily, said Gen Zamarai, the Afghan army commander in charge of security at the jail.

Authorities restored supplies of water, electricity and food to the prisoners late on Monday after progress appeared to be made in negotiations. A tanker truck carrying water and another vehicle loaded with potatoes and rice were seen driving into the compound on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul.

The supplies were withheld late on Sunday from the roughly 2,000 prisoners, including women and their children. Authorities have deployed hundreds of police and soldiers around the prison and have threatened to storm it, though they have said they would like to solve the problem peacefully. No deadline has been set for a deal to be reached.

The prisoners are believed to be armed with small knives and clubs fashioned from wrecked furniture, but do not have guns.

The prisoners have made a range of demands, including a general amnesty for an unspecified number of inmates, according to Sibghatullah Mujaddedi, the chief government

negotiator. Maqsodi, the purported spokesman for the prisoners, said they are also demanding retrials, claiming many of them are innocent while others were sentenced to too long prison terms.

Outside the jail on Tuesday, dozens of relatives of inmates pleaded with guards for news.

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