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Taiwan prison siege standoff ends with inmate suicides

By Andrew V. Pestano

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Six inmates who took hostages in one of the largest prisons in Taiwan which resulted in a 14-hour prison siege standoff committed suicide.

The inmates took four rifles, six handguns and 200 bullets after taking hostage two prison guards, who were later exchanged for the prison's warden and head of prison guards.

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The inmates worked in a sewing factory and may have had scissors, Justice Minister Lou Ying-shay said. They pretended to be sick to take hostages before breaking into a room containing weapons.

The prison was locked down and surrounded by police.

All hostages were released safely. The inmates were convicted of crimes including murder and burglary.

They were protesting against mistreatment, their sentences and unfair trials.

"I didn't kill anyone but I have to serve 18 years in prison," one inmate said in a statement. "I'm not the only innocent inmate here. Who can speak out for us?"

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Prison overcrowding is a serious problem in Taiwan. There has been an 18 percent increase of inmates in the past decade due to rising drug offence convictions.

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