Inmates riot at high-security Kabul jail

KABUL (Reuters) – Scores of prisoners rioted in a high-security Kabul jail and at least nine people were wounded in an exchange of gunfire as Afghan police tried to restore order, sources in two foreign aid agencies said on Wednesday.

A part of the Pul-i-Charkhi prison had been taken over by the inmates who said they were being illegally confined despite a decree by President Hamid Karzai acquitting them over a year ago, an aid agency worker said on condition of anonymity.

Some 150 inmates had been on a hunger strike for days demanding their release.

Unknown number of people, including several hundred suspected Taliban prisoners are being held at the jail which lies in the eastern outskirts of Kabul and earned notoriety for executions and torture during the communist rule in the 1980s.

“We know there were some shootings yesterday and the prisoners have taken control of parts of the prison,” the foreign aid agency source said on condition of anonymity.

Nine people, most of them inmates, have been evacuated with gunshots and are being treated, another source said.

A defense ministry official said efforts were under way to resolve the issue, but he would not give any details.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was trying to facilitate dialogue between Afghan authorities and the inmates as part of its mandate.

The prison which was refurbished recently has been the scene of at least two rounds of bloody riots in the past three years with inmates complaining of being treated badly. Several Taliban members have managed to escape from the complex in the past.

Last year, a wanted criminal fled from the prison the very day he was due to be hanged.

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