Ankara: Inmates in a prison in southeast Turkey set beds and blankets alight, starting a fire that killed 13 prisoners, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials said today.

Erdogan said the fire affected a ward housing 18 inmates in the prison in the mainly-Kurdish city of Sanliurfa.

He said some inmates set their bedding on fire following a fight that broke out inside the ward late Saturday.

It was not immediately clear if the victims had died of burns or from asphyxiation.

Erdogan said five other inmates were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. None was in serious condition.

A pro-Kurdish legislator, imprisoned for alleged links to an outlawed Kurdish rebel group, was staying in a separate ward and was not affected by the fire, the region's governor, Celalettin Guvenc told reporters.

Guvenc said authorities had launched an investigation into the incident, including into possible delays by authorities or firefighters in responding to the fire.


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