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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 13:08 GMT
Turkey swoops on prison protesters
Istanbul police enter the Kcuk Armutlu district
Turkish police used tear gas to dispel the protestors
Turkish police have raided a district in Istanbul and detained nine people involved in a hunger strike in support of left-wing prisoners.

Backed by armoured vehicles, bulldozers, ambulances and fire engines, police entered the Kucuk Armutlu district in the European part of the city.

Turkish prison tower
The army stormed dozens of prisons over the past year
Police had to use tear gas after the supporters of the protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails.

"The operation was launched against those who have set up barricades on the street and disrupted public order on the pretext of the hunger strike," a senior Istanbul police officer told the semi-official Anatolia news agency.

There were no initial reports of injuries or deaths.

Prison reform

It is the second such raid in a week. Last week four people died when the houses they were in were raided.

Police said they had set themselves on fire, but supporters of the hunger strikers say they were shot by the police.

At least 14 people were reported injured during the previous raids.

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

More than 40 hunger strikers have starved themselves to death to protest against plans to change prison accommodation.

They say the planned transfers from old-style dormitory prisons to small cells will leave them defenceless to abuse by prison guards.

The Turkish authorities say that the reforms are needed to restore control in prisons.

See also:

05 Nov 01 | Europe
Four dead in Turkish police raid
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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