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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 16:51 GMT
Fifteen hostages freed in Ecuador
Baby Heidi Carolina being held by a  Red Cross paramedic
Several children were among those freed
Fifteen hostages have been released from a jail in the Ecuadorean capital, Quito, where inmates have been holding more than 300 visitors since Sunday.

The 15, who have health problems, were freed after the authorities agreed to meet prisoners' representatives.

But the inmates say they will continue with their protest at overcrowding and poor conditions.

Last month, the government declared a state of emergency in the prison system and vowed to ease overcrowding.

The Interior Minister, Raul Baca, said the government would build three news jails to house 800 inmates.

Another measure would be the release of more than 1,000 inmates who have been held for over a year without being sentenced.

Demands not met

Inmates at the Garcia Moreno prison have been calling for such steps.

Some 270 women, 50 men and 40 children were taken hostage when they visited on Sunday.

Negotiations are continuing about the release of the remaining hostages.

Inmates have threatened to blow up three propane gas tanks if the government does not agree to their demands.




SEE ALSO:
Ecuador prisoners take hostages
17 Feb 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Ecuador
26 Nov 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Ecuador
02 Jan 04  |  Country profiles


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