Tunis, Jan 15 (AFP) A fire at a prison today inMonastir in eastern Tunisia killed at least 42 inmates, ahospital doctor said.
"Thirty-one bodies were taken to the morgue andanother 11 have followed," Dr Ali Chatli, head of the forensicmedicine department at Fatouma Bourguiba hospital at Monastir,160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Tunis, told AFP.
Chatli said the fire was caused by an inmate who setfire to a mattress in a dormitory housing nearly 90 people inan attempt to escape, sparking panic.
The victims died of severe burns and asphyxiation, hesaid.
The fire comes as Tunisia reels from the ousting ofPresident Zine Abidine Ben Ali after weeks of violent protestsagainst his rule.
Chatli said prisoners also panicked because they heardshots fired outside the jail. (AFP)