Thirteen Die in Azeri Prison Mutiny

BAKU (Reuters)–Security forces in Azerbaijan killed all 11 inmates who led a mutiny and freed 28 prison guards held hostage during an overnight riot at a labor camp in the former Soviet republic–officials said on Friday.

Two soldiers were killed in the fighting and 21 people were wounded–four seriously–an Interior Ministry statement said. Prison guards were among the wounded–police said.

At least two men killed in the revolt–which took place at Gobustan about 60 km (40 miles) south of the capital Baku–had been jailed for their part in a failed 1995 coup against President Haydar Aliyev–said Fuad Aleskerov–a senior presidential aide. Former general Vakhid Musayev–jailed for his part in the 1995 coup–was one of the leaders of the mutiny–according to a police statement. Also killed was Faik Bakhshaliyev–a former army officer convicted for the same plot. "The mutiny has been put down. No one escaped. It was organized by 11 prisoners," Aleskerov told Reuters.

Officials declined to detail the exact course of events–other than to say that the prisoners overpowered their guards around 11 p.m. on Thursday and that they were killed and the hostages freed shortly after midday on Friday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sadig Gezalov denied a report by Russia’s Interfax news agency that the prisoners had been gunned down in a bus outside the camp after the authorities had agreed to let them fly out of the country. He told Reuters all the events took place inside the camp and that there was no bus. People living nearby said they heard shooting but it was not known whether prisoners had captured firearms. Security forces cordoned off the area and denied access to reporters. Several hundred men are serving sentences at Gobustan for offenses from theft to murder. Inmates are forced to carry out hard labor in a form of imprisonment common across the former Soviet Union.

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