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'IS members kill dozens' in Tajikistan prison riot

A guard stands behind bars at a prison Image copyright Reuters

At least 29 inmates and three guards have been killed during a riot at a high-security prison in Tajikistan, the country's justice ministry said.

A group of Islamic State (IS) members killed the guards before releasing fellow IS convicts and turning on other prisoners, their statement read.

Guards then opened fire, leaving 24 more prisoners dead.

The facility is home to 1,500 prisoners and lies in the city of Vakhdat east of the capital Dushanbe.

It is the second deadly prison riot to hit Tajikistan in the last six months.

The justice ministry statement said rioting started on Sunday. IS inmates killed five fellow prisoners before taking others hostage and starting a fire.

Some of the inmates are political prisoners, and the ministry said two of those killed by the convicts were members of the banned opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), including the senior member Sattor Karimov. The party's leaders are all in exile or in prison.

It is unclear who else is among the dead.

One of the instigators was Bekhruz Gulmurod, a son of Gulmurod Khalimov. Mr Khalimov was a Tajik special forces soldier who defected to IS and was killed fighting in Syria.

Last November, 21 prisoners and two guards were killed during a riot at a maximum-security prison in Khujand, in northern Tajikistan. IS has claimed responsibility for the incident.

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