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Staff held hostage by Muslim inmates

Islamist inmates of a maximum-security northern English prison took prison officers hostage and beat them up in an incident that was reported to be connected to last week’s murder of a British soldier in London.

world Updated: May 29, 2013 02:10 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

Islamist inmates of a maximum-security northern English prison took prison officers hostage and beat them up in an incident that was reported to be connected to last week’s murder of a British soldier in London.

One officer was left with a broken cheekbone and a female officer suffered minor injuries in the course of a four-hour standoff between three inmates and guards at Full Sutton prison in the district of Yorkshire. Police did not confirm the reported link to the May 22 murder of Lee Rigby.

The incident, which happened on Sunday but was reported only on Tuesday, was brought to an end by prison police in riot gear. Significantly, it is now being investigated by the region’s counter-terrorism unit.

According to newspapers, the hostage-taking was inspired by the murder of unarmed British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, southeast London, by two Islamist radicals. Other reports said the inmates were angered by a move by to honour Rigby in the prison.

A spokeswoman for the north-east counter-terrorism unit (CTU) said: “Inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident. Given the potential nature of incident and the range of skills and expertise within the north-east CTU, the unit is leading the investigation at this time.” Full Sutton houses some of Britain’s most dangerous prisoners.

Rigby’s name is to be added to the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, which honours members of the UK armed forces who are killed on duty or through terrorist action.

Meanwhile, sporadic reprisals attacks and demonstrations by the hard right group English Defence League (EDL) continued through the weekend and on Monday.

EDL protesters pelted police officers with bottles while marching outside the British prime minister’s office at Downing Street on Monday.