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A former Eritrean prison guard says at least 15 former high-ranking government officials and journalists have died in jail due to inhumane conditions.

Eyob Bhata Habtemariam, who managed a team of up to 10 guards in two jails for political prisoners for over nine years, is seeking refuge in neighbouring Ethiopia. 

He told Al Jazeera that inmates at the Eritrean jails had been subjected to extreme temperatures and provided with inadequate food, water or medical attention.

The detainees were arrested in a government crackdown on dissenting officials and journalists accused of plotting a coup in 2001.

Eritrea has not commented on Habtemariam's accusations.

Andrew Simmons reports from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Source: Al Jazeera