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Wednesday, April 1, 1998 Published at 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK



World: Europe

Hostage drama continues in Turkish prisons
image: [ Istanbul University students held protests in support of the prisoners ]
Istanbul University students held protests in support of the prisoners

A group of prisoners in Turkey is continuing to hold hostage more than 50 prison guards and officials in six prisons.

The protests were prompted by the transfer of 12 members of an extreme left-wing group, the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party Front.


[ image: Soldiers surround Ankara prison]
Soldiers surround Ankara prison
There is a heavy security presence outside the prisons. However, the authorities say they are trying to avoid any escalation and have no plans at present to storm the prisons to free the hostages.

Government officials and human rights groups have been trying to negotiate with the prisoners' lawyers to end the incidents peacefully. Human rights activists have resumed their mediation efforts.

The prisoners released one hostage after he fell ill.

Protests common

The BBC correspondent in Ankara says prisoners are apparently demanding a guarantee that no more members of their group will be transferred to other jails.

The group involved in the protest has carried out numerous small-scale attacks against the security forces and business interests in Turkey's major cities. In prison its members are often kept together in dormitories to avoid clashes with rival factions.

There has been a succession of protests about conditions in Turkish prisons. Overcrowding is a big problem, and there are constant accusations of official brutality.

Twelve prisoners taking part in a hunger strike starved themselves to death in 1996, and a number of inmates have been killed in the aftermath of prison riots.
 





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