Police quell Thai prison riot

January 15, 2002

Reports from Thailand say police have fired tear gas to put down a riot by hundreds of inmates at a juvenile prison.

One police officer and one inmate were seriously injured in the violence at the detention centre in Surat Thani province about 530 kilometres (330 miles) south of Bangkok.

The Associated Press news agency quoted the provincial police chief as saying the trouble started when a protest over conditions at the jail turned violent.

Colonel Chaiyaporn Wamasiri said more than 400 prisoners, aged between 15 and 18, had made a series of demands, including the right to smoke and to visit their families.

Molotov cocktails

The Bangkok Post newspaper reported the trouble started at about 1900 (1200 GMT) on Monday.

About 30 inmates broke open a door and then let loose several hundred others.

They were reported to have used Molotov cocktails, stones, knives and clubs against police sent in to subdue them.

About 200 police officers and defence volunteers later stormed the prison. Police said they arrested three inmates trying to escape.

Correspondents say riots in Thailand’s overcrowded prisons are common.

Officials say adult jails are filled to three times capacity, largely due to an increase in drug-related crimes in recent years.

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