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Man dies in Jordanian prison clash

Written by: Staff

AMMAN, Apr 13 (Reuters) One man was killed and several injured at a Jordanian prison north of Amman today when Islamist prisoners clashed with police, a security source said.

The source said Islamist prisoners took two policemen hostage during the clashes, which erupted at Qafqafa jail when police tried to enter the cells to enforce solitary confinement.

A government official said the disturbance had been brought under control, but gave no further details.

The security source later said one dead body and a number of injured police and inmates were taken to hospital. It was not immediately clear if the dead man was an inmate or a policeman but pan-Arab Al Arabiya television identified him as a prisoner.

An Islamist prisoner told Al Jazeera satellite station that a 1,000-strong security force had entered the jail to try to ''kidnap two inmates'' and fired tear gas when some prisoners put up resistance. He said one inmate had been wounded by a gunshot.

Government spokesman Naser Juda said violence erupted when some prisoners tried to stop security forces from searching their cells for drugs and sharp weapons, but made no mention of hostages or casualties.

''The situation in Qafqafa prison is completely under control after a number of prisoners tried to start a riot this morning,'' he told the official Petra news agency.

Witnesses said they saw ambulances speed down the main highway near the prison, which is on a hill 60 km north of Amman. The jail has been surrounded by 100 police troops and the area cordoned off, they said.

Today's clashes were the second between inmates and policemen in six weeks. In early March, prisoners loyal to al Qaeda took a prison chief and six policemen hostage during riots at three jails against the transfer of two inmates convicted for killing a US diplomat.

Islamist sources said the prisoners released the policemen after getting promises that they would not be punished. The two inmates were hanged 10 days later for the assassination.

Those riots involved around 150 prisoners and were the most serious in the kingdom in recent years.

Last year, high security detainees held several protests against what they complained were poor prison conditions and ill treatment.

Jordan denies there are systematic violations of prisoners' rights in its jails.


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