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Inmates riot at high-security Kabul prison
Updated: 2006-02-26 14:31

KABUL, Afghanistan - Inmates have seized control of parts of a high-security prison holding al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Kabul, official said Sunday.

The prisoners forced guards out of a block at Policharki Prison after a failed escape attempt Saturday night, said Abdul Salaam Bakshi, chief of prisons in Afghanistan. The prison holds 1,300 inmates, including al-Qaida and Taliban members.

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

Earlier, Bakshi said police had the prison surrounded and no inmates had broken out. He accused al-Qaida and Taliban inmates of inciting other prisoners.

"All the problem is inside the prison. It's 1,300 people. We want to peacefully solve this problem," he said.

Mohammed Qasim Hashimzai, deputy justice minister, said about 100 of the prisoners had taken control of a women's wing of the prison. Hashimzai was part of a ministry delegation that was set to visit the prison Sunday morning.

"They have demands, we are going to listen to what they want," he said, without elaborating.

Bakshi said a group of inmates had attacked guards Saturday night and tried to force their way out but were blocked. Inmates had small knives and clubs fashioned from wrecked furniture, he said.

No guards were hurt but there were unconfirmed reports that several prisoners were injured, he said.

Policharki lies on the outskirts of the Afghan capital. Some wings of the prison are being refurbished to improve security and living conditions before some 110 Afghan terror suspects being held in U.S. military custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are sent back here later this year, Afghan officials say.

Last month, seven mid-ranking Taliban inmates disguised themselves as visitors and escaped from the prison.

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