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April 13, 2006


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Jordan prison uprising quelled
by Randa Habib

AMMAN - Jordanian security forces quelled an uprising Thursday at a prison north of Amman that led to the death of one prisoner and in which two policemen were reportedly taken hostage, officials said.

"The mutiny is over and security forces completely control the prison in Qafqafa," 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital, Nasser Jawdeh said.

One prisoner died en route to hospital after being wounded during the riot, a senior government official said. He added that the cause of death was not immediately known, and an "investigation is underway."

Another official said 11 people, including prisoners and police, had been hurt.

Earlier, a security source said two policemen had been taken hostage, and their fate was still uncertain.

Jawdeh said the unrest began after prisoners resisted being searched for knives or other sharp instruments after officials received reports that some were being kept.

One of the prisoners, an Islamist named Abdul Shehadeh Hamed al-Tahawi, used a mobile telephone to ring Al-Jazeera television and say "two members of security" had been taken hostage.

Tahawi, 50, said the act was in retaliation for guards taking "two prisoners" after morning prayers. He named them as Fahed Nouman, under sentence of death for a terrorist bombing near the Iraqi border, and Mohammed Derbas, jailed for attempting to free another prisoner, Azmi Jayussi, on March 1.

Jawdeh refused to comment on the claim by Tahawi, himself jailed in connection with an abortive 2004 conspiracy to attack Jordan's intelligence headquarters with chemical weapons.

In the March 1 incident, inmates at two Jordanian jails took prison officials hostage. The situation was brought under control after 12 hours of negotiations, with the release of all 13 hostages including the head of Jordan's penitentiaries.

Several officers and policemen were wounded in clashes when they went to negotiate with inmates at Juweideh prison, south of Amman, where around 80 Islamists were detained.

Security sources said the riots were aimed at freeing Jayussi, a confidante of Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader and Jordanian national Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Jayussi was sentenced to death in November over the abortive attack on the intelligence headquarters.

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