[QODLink]
Europe
'Gunfire' at Turkish quake-damaged prison
Parts of building on fire and reports of violence inside prison from which several inmates escaped after Sunday's quake.
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2011 20:11

Violence has been reported at a jail in the earthquake-hit city of Van in Turkey, after the walls of the jail were damaged in Sunday's disaster.

Parts of the jail were on fire on Tuesday evening, and witnesses reported hearing gunfire emanating from within it.

"I'm standing outside the main gates of the jail, and a potentially very serious situation is developing here. As we drove towards the jail it was clear that it was still on fire. We could see a prison guard with a riot shield moving down from one of the watchtowers," reported Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught.

Relatives of prisoners were gathered outside the jail.

When a group of heavily armed policemen arrived at the jail to restore order, the relatives set on them, with some attempting to assault them as they tried to gain access to the compound to reinforce security.

More than half a dozen minibuses ferried soldiers into the prison compound, while ambulances waited outside. One soldier helped a bloodied comrade who was brought outside the prison to be treated for cuts.

"These shameless people. They threw scissors at him," he said while his friend was being treated. "They have everything
inside, knives, daggers, everything. There's a whole gang of them."

Police used teargas to disperse the angry crowd outside the jail, after earlier scuffling with them. At its height, the crowd numbered more than 200.

The private Dogan news agency reported that some prisoners demanded to be let out late Tuesday when a 5.4-magnitude aftershock hit the area, while others set bedding on fire.

When the 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the region on Sunday, some of the walls of the jail collapsed. The prisoners left the compound, but, after checking on the safety of their families, almost all returned to the prison.

"Clearly security at that point was breached ... and now there seems to be some kind of an uprising happening in the jail itself. Relatives of the people inside the jail tell me they've heard shots were fired and that some people in the jail have actually been restrained. They're very, very concerned about the safety of their families," reported Al Jazeera's McNaught.

The jail is not a maximum security facility, and is meant to confine prisoners who have been convicted of less serious crimes. Most of those incarcerated were convicted of petty crimes, or are political prisoners.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list