Israeli special forces have raided a prison in central Israel after an inmate stole a gun, shot several guards and barricaded himself inside the compound, killing the notorious prisoner who was serving time for a gruesome murder carried out in the United States.

Police identified the inmate as Samuel Sheinbein, an American who fled to Israel after murdering and dismembering another man in Maryland in 1997 and whose case sparked a high-profile row between the two allies.

Special forces rushed to this prison in central Israel on Sunday after Sheinbein stole a weapon and shot three guards, wounding two of them seriously, reported the Associated Press.

He then barricaded himself inside the compound where a standoff ensued, with special forces units dispatched to the scene.

The inmate then opened fire again, wounding three more guards, before the forces shot him dead, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Hospital officials said one of the wounded guards was fighting for his life.

'Warnings ignored'

Police and the Israel prison service have opened investigations into the incident. Sheinbein's lawyers told Israeli TV that their client was under duress and that the Israeli prison service has ignored their warnings.

Sheinbein, 34, was tried in Israel in 1999, two years after he fled to the country and successfully sought refuge from extradition, enraging Maryland authorities and briefly threatening US aid to Israel.

An Israeli court sentenced Sheinbein to 24 years for his slaying and dismemberment of 19-year-old Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr.

Sheinbein was 17 at the time of the killing and could have faced a life sentence in Maryland.

His extradition to Maryland was blocked after a yearlong battle between Israel and the US over an Israeli law that prohibited it.

Following that embarrassment, Israel changed its laws to allow the extradition of Israeli citizens on condition that they are returned to Israel to serve any sentence imposed.

Sheinbein, of Aspen Hill, Maryland, confessed to strangling Tello with a rope and hitting him several times with a sharp object. Sheinbein then dismembered the body with an electric saw and burned it, authorities said.

Another teenager charged in the killing, Aaron Needle, committed suicide while in jail in Maryland.

Sheinbein fled to Israel days after Tello's remains were found in a garage.

He successfully sought refuge under a law that prevented the extradition of Israeli citizens to foreign countries.

Sheinbein had only passing contact with Israel, but his father, Saul, was born in the country and Sheinbein qualified for Israeli citizenship.

Source: AP