Jordanian security forces storm prison after riot

Police forces clashed with Islamist inmates at an isolated hilltop prison in northern Jordan Thursday. One inmate reported that prisoners had been wounded in the fighting.

A security official said the disturbances began shortly after dawn, when inmates at Qafqafa penitentiary, mainly Islamists who had just finished the dawn prayers, refused routine inspection by their wardens. He declined to provide details, but said "pushing and shoving" broke out in one of the jailblocks where there were more than 30 prisoners.

Al-Jazeera satellite network reported that two police officers were taken hostage in the melee. A prisoner who spoke to the network by cell phone threatened the lives of the two men if the security forces did not stop their assault.

The security official, insisting on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, declined to confirm if any policemen were captured. He said authorities were in control of the situation, but refused to say if they were negotiating with the inmates or if they planned to storm the jailblock.

It was the second riot at a Jordanian prison in a month.

Prisoner Abed Shihadeh al-Tahawi told Al-Jazeera by cell phone that security forces used tear gas and live bullets against prisoners, wounding some.

"Our place is still besieged, they are still using tear gas and live bullets," he said of the security forces. "We tell them, if they proceed, if they won't stop, if they try to enter, we have two hostages, and their destiny will be grave."

It was not clear if the officers were detained in the riot or after security forces began their assault, reports the AP.

I.L.