Police raid Lebanese prison to halt riot; 2 dead

AP News
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Posted: Apr 06, 2011 11:59 AM
Police raid Lebanese prison to halt riot; 2 dead

Security forces have stormed the country's largest prison to halt a riot by inmates, and two prisoners died, security officials said Wednesday.

The officials said one of the inmates was killed when a stun grenade he grabbed from a police officer detonated in his hand. The other died of a heart attack during the raid late Tuesday at the Roumieh prison east of Beirut, they said.

Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri discussed the situation in Roumieh with Cabinet ministers and judicial officials on Wednesday, according to a government statement. They decided to work on improving living and security conditions in the prison.

Angry relatives briefly closed the main road leading to the prison Wednesday and threw rocks and bottles at riot police positioned at the main gate of the prison. There were no injuries.

The rioting started on Saturday by prisoners demanding improved conditions. They took three guards hostage and set a fire inside one of the buildings.

The raid late Tuesday freed the three guards. At least six inmates were injured.

The officials said the riot was over and police were in control of the prison Wednesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Interior Minister Ziad Baroud said Roumieh was built to take 1,050 prisoners but currently houses 3,700. He said that out of the total, only 721 have been convicted, while the rest are either awaiting trial or are now on trial.