Janet's Conner

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

GUANTANAMO PRISONERS, GUARDS CLASH

Suicide attempt led to fight at U.S. detention center on Thursday

Prisoners wielding fans, light fixtures and other improvised weapons clashed with guards trying to stop a detainee from committing suicide at the U.S. Dentention center in Guantanamo Bay, the military said Friday.

The clashed occured Thurdsay in a medium-security section of the camp as guards were responding to the fourth attempted suicide that day at the detention center on a U.S. Navy base in Cuba, said Cmdr. Robert Durand.

Detainees struck guards as they entered a communal living area to stop a pisoner who was trying to hang himself, Durand said. Earlier in the day, three detainees in another part of the prison attempted suicide by swallowing prescription medicine they had been hoarding.

"At this point, I have no idea of motive, no idea of any coordination and no idea of any intended message," Durand said.


'Improvised weapons' used

The attempted hanging took place in a medium-security camp where prisoners live in groups of up to 10 men in long bays with metal cots. When guards entered the unit, roommates "tried to prevent them from rescuing the detainee by using fans, light fixtures and other items as improvised weapons," Durand said.

Guards halted the attempted hanging, quelled the disturbance and moved the roommates to a maximum-security area, Durand said.

The three who took overdoses were treated with activated charcoal to absorb and neutralize the medications, and two were held for observation in the camp hospital, Durand said.

The detention camp at the U.S. naval base in Cuba holds about 460 prisoners in five seperate compounds. Durand said guards were searching all of the cells for contraband.


Earlier suicide attempts

The United States has faced criticism from human rights groups and some of its allies for holding prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely. Some have been there since the camp opened in January 2002.

The incidents occured on the same day that the military transfered 15 Saudi detainees to their country.

There have been 39 suicide attempts at Guantanamo since the detention center opened in January 2002, the military said. At least 12 were by Juma'a Mohammed al-Dossary, a 32-year-old from Bahrain. Guantanamo holds detainees suspected of links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban.


Source: MSNBC News Services
The Associated Press and Reuters
contributed to this report
May 19, 2006

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