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Ecuador inmates hold 180 visitors hostage
Updated: 2004-12-09 12:26

Inmates in the Ecuadorian capital's largest prison took 180 visitors hostage Wednesday to protest what they called overcrowding, poor conditions and long sentences, a prison official said.

An uprising at the same prison in April left three inmates dead.

Dozens of riot police kept guard around Quito's Prison No. 3, where inmates took 360 visitors for three days in February to press demands for reduced sentences and better conditions.

"We hope that dialogue will prevent problems and, above all, prevent attempts against the lives of the relatives of the inmates," prison director Victor Silva said, adding that 180 people were being held.

The situation inside the prison appeared "calm and peaceful," he added.

In February, hostages were released unharmed. It was unclear whether they were held against their will or voluntarily joined in the protest.

The prison was designed to hold 400 prisoners but houses more than 1,000 in tiny cells, most of which lack basic services like electricity and running water.

The 10-day uprising in April ended in a confrontation with police, leaving three inmates dead and several others injured after some prisoners attempted a mass escape.

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