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Thursday, February 12

Six Prisoners Shoot Themselves Dead After Failed Prison Break Attempt

Six heavily armed inmates who held their warden and a guard hostage at a prison in Taiwan have committed suicide after a dramatic 14-hour siege.

The prisoners had broken into the prison's armory and seized a number of weapons, including rifles, handguns and more than 200 bullets,The six inmates all worked in the sewing factory and would have had access to scissors, the ministry said. The inmates pretended to be sick and went to the prison infirmary. While there, they grabbed the keys from prison staff but were unable to break out of the prison. They smashed their way into a room storing the prison's weapons instead.

The inmates, who were serving a range of sentences for crimes including murder, complained about their sentences, mistreatment at the jail, and the recent release of former President Chen Shui-bian on medical grounds, according to Taiwanese media reports. He was serving a 20-year sentence for corruption.

One of the hostage takers, identified by Taiwanese media as Cheng Li-te, a member of a notorious criminal gang, issued a statement at around 11 p.m., which was read on Taiwanese television by Wu Hsien-chang, head of the Taiwan's Corrections Agency.

In it, Cheng pleaded his innocence.
 "I didn't kill anyone but I have to serve 18 years in prison. I'm not the only innocent inmate here. Who can speak out for us?"
He then complained that their monthly allowance of NT$200 (around US$6) was not even enough to buy underwear, and that prison inmates were denied the same chance of medical parole as former President Chen.

The inmates demanded safe exit by car via a side door of the prison.

Deputy justice minister Chen Ming-tang said officials rejected the group's demands for safe passage out of the prison and tried to convince them to surrender during hours of negotiations.
'We tried to give them assurances so they wouldn't do something stupid and to reconsider, but sadly they committed suicide and we feel deep regret,'
 Source: CNN

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