domenica 14 aprile 2013

Violence erupts in Guantanamo prison

The International News
WASHINGTON: Weeks of mounting tensions between the military and detainees at the wartime prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, escalated into violence on Saturday during a raid in which guards forced prisoners living in communal housing to move to individual cells. “Some detainees resisted with improvised weapons, and in response, four less-than-lethal rounds were fired,” the military said in a statement. “There were no serious injuries to guards or detainees.”

According to a report published in New York Times, Capt. Robert Durand, a military spokesman at the base, said the improvised weapons included “batons and broomsticks.” Another military official said that at least one detainee had been hit by a rubber bullet, but that there were no further details about any minor injuries or how the prisoners had resisted.

The raid came shortly after a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross completed a three-week visit to examine the prisoners and study the circumstances of a hunger strike that has been roiling the camp for weeks. The Red Cross visit concluded on Friday, and most of the delegation left that same day, though a few flew out Saturday morning, said Simon Schorno, a Red Cross spokesman.

Mr. Schorno declined to comment on the raid, saying that no one from the Red Cross delegation had witnessed it. But he did say that the Red Cross believed the hunger strike was the result of how legal uncertainty has affected their mental and emotional health. Most of the detainees have been held without trial for more than a decade, and the outward flow of detainees has essentially ceased amid Congressional restrictions on further transfers.

“The I.C.R.C. continues to follow the current tensions and the hunger strike at Guantánamo very closely and with concern,” he said. “If necessary, an I.C.R.C. team will, in coming days, return to Guantánamo to assess the situation of the detainees on hunger strike in view of this latest development.”

As of Friday, the military said, 43 of the 166 detainees at the prison were deemed to be participating in the hunger strike; lawyers for the prisoners contend that the majority of the inmate population is participating.

The military has not allowed reporters to visit the prison for several weeks.

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