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Rioting prisoners set South African jail on fire

Rioting inmates set fire to the maximum security section of a prison in central South Africa, the same region where prisoners recently took a doctor and nurse hostage, officials said Monday.

“Offenders are burning part of the section of the maximum correctional centre in Groenpunt,” Grace Molatedi, regional deputy commissioner for prisons in the Free State province, told AFP.

Police said the prisoners rioted over the quality of food and had late in the afternoon refused to take their meal before they overpowered and attacked warders. They started torching their cells shortly after.

“Scuffles ensued and they attacked the warders and began to burn down the place,” Peter Kareli, police spokesman for the province, was quoted as saying by SAPA news agency.

At least four warders sustained injuries.

Prison officials said there were 227 inmates at the centre.

In November, police rescued a prison doctor who had been held hostage for 20 hours by two inmates who demanded better food at the privately operated Mangaung maximum security prison near Bloemfontein.

The doctor was freed unharmed. The nurse was let go much earlier into the drama.