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Monday, 5 November, 2001, 17:51 GMT
Turkish police raid hunger strike homes
Funeral of starved prisoner
More than 40 hunger strikers have died so far
Turkish police have raided several houses in Istanbul and forcibly removed left-wing hunger strikers.

One report, quoting a senior Istanbul police officer, said six people had burned themselves to death in protest.

Another report, on the semi-official Anatolia news agency, said four bodies had been removed from the hunger strikers' houses. At least 10 people were said to have been injured, some critically.

The hunger strike has been going on for the past year, in protest at government changes to the prison system.

Tear gas

The police used armoured vehicles to destroy barricades set up by the protesters in the Kucukarmutlu district on the European side of the city.

Witnesses said they saw police drag out protesters - some of whom were weakened by months of fasting - and take them to hospital in waiting ambulances.

Turkish cell
The new cells leave prisoners open to abuse, say protesters
Police fired tear gas and the protesters hit back with stones and petrol bombs, reported the Turkish television station NTV.

The government says the changes in prison design are necessary to break up the dominance of radical political groups within Turkey's jails.

But protesters claim they leave prisoners open to abuse.

Last December two soldiers and 30 prisoners died when security forces stormed prisons to try to transfer inmates into the new-style jails.

More than 40 hunger strikers have died in the past year.

The BBC's Patricia Golding
"The government has ruled out a return to the dormitory system"
See also:

15 Jul 01 | Europe
Turkey halts prison plans
18 Apr 01 | Europe
Turkey's radicals wait for death
10 Jan 01 | Europe
Shadow hangs over Turkish jails
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