May 5, 2008 / 1:18 PM / 11 years ago

Rights group says 36 dead after prison riot in Myanmar

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Soldiers and police killed 36 prisoners inside Myanmar’s most infamous jail to quell a riot that started in the devastating wake of Cyclone Nargis, a Thailand-based human rights group said on Monday.

After the storm ripped zinc roof sheets of many cell blocks, guards at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison herded around 1,000 prisoners into a large hall and locked the doors, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPPB) said.

The men lit a fire to get warm, but thick smoke quickly filled the building, sparking panic.

“The situation escalated and chaos ensued,” the AAPPB, one of the most reliable sources of information about conditions inside military-ruled Myanmar’s gulag, said in a statement.

“In order to control the situation, soldiers and riot police were called in. They opened fire on the prisoners in that area. Thirty-six prisoners were killed instantly and around 70 were injured,” it said.

With most telephone lines into the former Burma severed and the Internet down, it was impossible to confirm the report with another source.

Cyclone Nargis killed at least 4,000 people, and left another 3,000 people missing, state media said.

Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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