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50 dead in prison fire

world Updated: Jan 15, 2011 18:49 IST
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At least 50 people were killed on Saturday in a Tunisian prison fire or by jail guards shooting at prisoners seeking to escape the flames, medical sources and eyewitnesses said.

Medical sources said that the number of dead was around 50 in the prison inferno in the Tunisian coastal city of Monastir.

The blaze apparently started when prison inmates began setting their mattresses on fire, with the flames quickly spreading through the facility.

Then, according to eyewitness accounts, prisoners seeking to escape were shot dead by prison guards, claiming several lives.

Further details were not immediately available. The prison fire was one of the latest cases of arson in Tunisia's plunge into chaos in the wake of the dramatic departure Friday of long-time president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali following a month of street protests.