Lebanese security forces contain second round of prison riots

15:22, April 06, 2011      

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Smoke rises from Roumieh prison in the east of Beirut, Lebanon, April 5, 2011. Relatives of the inmates in Roumieh Prison on Tuesday protested outside the prison against lengthy detentions without trial and demanded a better condition for inmates here. (Xinhua/Koka)

Lebanese security forces quelled Tuesday evening riots that erupted in the country's largest prison, as five inmates were injured during clashes with guards.

A security source told Xinhua that the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and special forces of the Lebanese Army have regained complete control of the Roumieh prison complex.

After the weekend's riots were contained in the Roumieh prison, prisoners renewed riots Tuesday in protest against deteriorating living conditions inside the prison.

They set ablaze one of the prison's courtyards while their relatives outside the complex clashed with security forces who rushed inside the compound to contain the violence.

Three ISF members held as hostages by the inmates were also freed as several prisoners who suffered from burns were transferred to different hospitals in Beirut, said the security source.

Relatives of the inmates blocked the main road leading to the Roumieh prison by burning tires and obstacles to stop ISF and army members from entering the facility.

The inmates and relatives were protesting bad living conditions inside Roumieh and slow judicial proceedings. They were also calling for a general amnesty to be issued.

The Roumieh complex, considered as Lebanon's largest and most notorious prison, is built to host around 1,500 prisoners but presently houses more than 5,000 inmates.

The country's caretaker Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, who visited Roumieh Tuesday evening, said the demands of the prisoners were "rightful."

Baroud rejected to portray the riots in Roumieh as a confrontation between the state and the prisoners.

"We are taking our time in addressing (the problem) so that we will not shed one drop of blood," he told reporters.

Baroud also warned against any attempt to politicize the violence in Roumieh. "I reject to use prisoners as a 'fuel' to deliver any political message," he added.

Source: Xinhua
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