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Security Forces Surround Afghan Jail For Second Day

PUL-E CHARKHI, 27 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Negotiations are continuing with inmates occupying a cell block at a prison near the Afghan capital, Kabul.

Hundreds of police and troops backed by armored vehicles sealed off the Pul-e Charkhi prison on 25 February after suspected Taliban commanders seized a prison block housing more than 1,000 prisoners.

The rioters are complaining of prison conditions and rules.

A Defense Ministry spokesman, Zahir Azimi, said representatives from the Justice Ministry, attorney general's office, the United Nations, and Afghan human rights officials are involved in the talks.

Negotiations on 26 February yielded no progress.

One person involved in the talks, human rights official Nader Nadery, said the prisoners are asking to be released and claim to be holding hostages.

Nadery said one of the riot leaders is Timoor Shah, the head of a group that kidnapped an Italian aid worker last year. The other two are believed to be Taliban commanders Mullah Mujadid and Mullah Shahidzai, though Afghan officials say it is impossible to know with certainty who is in charge.

Details on casualties remain sketchy. Reports say up to seven people may have been killed, but this has not been confirmed.

(with agency reports)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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