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Inmates riot in southern Iran prison over coronavirus spread

Iran has reported more than 40,000 Covid-19 infections.

Date of publication: 31 March, 2020

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Iranian authorities have released around 100,000 prisoners in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Inmates at a prison in Iran’s south-central city of Shiraz staged a riot late Sunday in the latest in a series of violent disturbances among detainees fearful about the spread of the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 2,700 lives in the country.

Prisoners at Adel Abad prison damaged fences and broke surveillance cameras, said Sayyid Kasem Mosevi, public prosecutor of southwest Fars province, adding that there were no reports of injuries or escapes.

On Friday, around 70 inmates escaped Saqez Prison in Iran's western Kurdish region, according to state-run IRNA news agency, beating guards in the process. Several inmates returned to their cells peacefully.

The chaos caused by the coronavirus outbreak continues, Iranian authorities will release almost 100,000 prisoners over several stages in the coming weeks, as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the disease.

Violent offenders, political prisoners, dual-nationals, and others with alleged ties to western governments have been generally excluded from release.

Read more: Iran extends temporary prisoner release as coronavirus deaths increase

Families of the detainees in the latter two groups say that Iran holds those prisoners for political reasons, or to use them as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Western governments.

Riots have broken out in cities across Iran since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, with some prisoners escaping.

Iran has reported over 40,000 infections and 2,757 deaths from the novel coronavirus, including 117 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

The health ministry says that more than 3,500 people remain in critical condition, while around 14,000 have recovered.

The virus has infected more than 720,000 people worldwide, causing more than 34,000 deaths, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. More than 150,000 have recovered.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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