Inmates end French prison hostage siege
PARIS, Nov 24 (AFP) - Mutinous prison inmates in central France on Monday released their four hostages unharmed after an eight-hour standoff and surrendered to security forces, prison officials said in Paris.
The hostage crisis, which began in the large prison complex in Moulins some 300 kilometres (200 miles) south of Paris shortly after 10 am, ended shortly after a special police team opened negotiations.
None of the prisoners were injured, said prison officials, who did not immediately disclose any additional details about the end of the crisis in the the 20-year-old prison which accommodates 117 long-term and particularly dangerous prisoners.
Justice Minister Dominque Perben congratulated and thanked the police units for their successful resolution of the hostage crisis.
“The handling of this crisis demonstrates the efficiency and the responsiveness” of the special police units, he said in a statement.
The justice ministry said that the hostage crisis began when 33 prisoners took control of a workshop.
Initially five people were seized – prison guards and employees, but two were quickly released. Both were physically unhurt but one was given unspecified medical treatement.
Another employee who was hiding from the inmates was discovered, bringing the total number of hostages to four.
The prison service said earlier it had received no demands from the prisoners, who were armed with knives and tools. Surveillance cameras in the workshop had been wrecked, it added.
Some 60 crack police troops had been deployed inside and about 100 others around the prison.
A regional official with the UFAP union covering the prison guards, Jean-Jacques Deflendre, told AFP he believed the prisoners were protesting a new rule requiring them to keep their cell doors shut during the daytime.
He said the issue had sparked a minor rebellion last Friday when 20 inmates had refused to go back into their cells after yard exercise before the intervention of a riot squad.
The complex currently holds 117 convicts and 197 prisoners awaiting trial.
Subject: French news