Inmates take over parts of Kabul jail

At least 36 people have been injured in clashes between inmates and guards of a high-security Kabul prison.

    Pul-i-charki Prison houses al-Qaida and Taliban detainees

    About 1300 prisoners, including Taliban members, on Sunday took control of parts of the prison, Aljazeera reporter Wali Allah Shaheen said.

    Afghan officials confirmed that parts of the prison had been taken over.

    Abdul Salaam Bakshi, chief of prisons in Afghanistan, said that on Saturday night guards had been forced out of a block of Pul-i-charki Prison, which houses inmates including al-Qaida and Taliban convicts.
     
    The prison is under the direct charge of Afghan security forces, but US forces have indirect supervision over it, Shaheen said.
     

    An Associated Press photographer outside Pul-i-charki heard a short burst of gunfire on Sunday morning. A few minutes later, an ambulance carrying an unidentified patient drove out of the prison. 

    Uniform protest
     

    Some inmates tried to escape 

    Mohammed Qasim Hashimzai, deputy justice minister, said four inmates had been injured, but prisoners - who said about 20 had been injured - had refused an offer to be treated.

    He said some inmates were still trying to escape, and about 100 of them had taken control of a women's wing of the prison.

    The government decided that prisoners should wear a distinctive uniform after five members of the Taliban movement escaped in January, Shaheen said.

    The prisoners refused to wear the uniform and clashed with the guards.

    Surrounded

    Bakshi said the police had surrounded the prison and no inmate had escaped.

    "All the problem is inside the prison. It concerns 1300 people. We want to peacefully resolve it," he said.

    He said the prison houses a total of 2000 inmates, and accused the al-Qaida and Taliban inmates of inciting other inmates


    A Justice Ministry delegation has visited the prison on the outskirts of the Afghan capital to negotiate with the prisoners.

    "They have demands, we are going to listen to what they want," Hashimzai said.

    "If we cannot solve that through negotiations, we have our own options," he added, but declined to say whether that meant using force.

     

    Taliban prisoners tried to
    to break out earlier

    Bakshi said the inmates had attacked guards and tried to force their way out of their prison block but were stopped.

    He said the inmates had small knives and clubs fashioned from wrecked furniture. They had also set fire to the bedding.

    Past incidents

    Pul-i-charki has suffered breakouts and riots before.

    In December 2004, four inmates and four guards died during a 10-hour stand-off that started when some inmates from al-Qaida used razors to wrest some guns from guards and then tried to break out.

    Afghan troops stormed the prison and fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades to retake control.

    Last month, seven mid-ranking Taliban inmates disguised themselves as visitors and escaped. Some wings of Pul-i-charki are being refurbished to improve security and living conditions.

    About 110 Afghan terror suspects are expected to be sent there this year from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Afghan officials say.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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