Karachi: Two prisoners were killed and 15 prison staff were taken hostage during a protest on Friday by inmates of the Hyderabad Central Jail in southern Pakistan, where high-profile terrorists are being held.

Riots broke out in the prison where enraged inmates reportedly were protesting against lack of amenities at the jail.

The prisoners broke out of their barracks and took 15 staff including the assistant jailer hostage, Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Gulzar Channa told the media. Channa confirmed that two inmates -- Sajid Khaskheli and Karim Bux -- were killed in the riots that broke out.

Six persons, including policemen, were also injured in action by police to control the protests. Prison guards used teargas and fired in the air to disperse protesters who tried to break down a wall and a gate. Channa said 15 jail wardens were taken hostage by the prisoners but the situation was now being brought under control.

Channa acknowledged that 1,000 of the 1,800 prisoners in the jail were terrorists or hardened criminals.     He said some of the most dangerous prisoners of Sindh province were being held at the jail.

Terror mastermind Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, arrested for the abduction and murder of American reporter Daniel Pearl, is among the prisoners at jail. Additional troops from the Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Corps were called in to control the situation.

Footage on television showed the prisoners vandalizing property within the jail and standing in large numbers on the roofs of structures within the walled prison complex. Channa said he had not received any complaints from the prisoners during his last visit to the jail.

The prisoners had been demanding facilities such as provision of mobile phones, which could not be made available to them, and more time outside their barracks.

In March last year, seven prisoners were killed and over 20 injured in a similar clash between police and prisoners at the Jail after which the Sindh high Court ruled that jail authorities could not carry out a operation inside the prison without court permission.

"That is why we are not carrying out any operation right now," the jail official said.

Sources said inmates had taken over the prisoner compound after an argument with jail wardens and police had resorted to shelling and firing at 11 am as there had been a jailbreak attempt.

The prisoners' version could not be obtained as cellphones are not allowed inside. Jail hospital incharge, Dr Pir Manzoor Ali, said three jail wardens and three inmates were injured inside. Relatives of the inmates who had come visiting also blocked the National Highway in protest.


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