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Six inmates in Taiwan hostage standoff commit suicide

12 February 2015 9:32

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Six inmates who had taken several staff hostage at a prison in southern Taiwan to complain about their trials have killed themselves, ending the nearly 14 hours of standoff.

The Taiwanese Justice Ministry announced that the inmates committed suicide inside the Kaohsiung Prison at around 5 a.m. local time on Thursday (2100 GMT Wednesday) just before armed police forces were set to carry out an operation.

The ministry added that the hostages, including the prison chief, Chen Shih-chih, and another senior staffer, Wang Shih-tsang, were all unharmed.

“We tried to use all kinds of means to persuade them to release the hostages so the incident could come to a peaceful end and to prevent an unfortunate situation. We regret that six people took their lives,” Wu Hsien-chang, the chief of the ministry’s corrections agency, said.

The standoff began Wednesday when the inmates – jailed for a variety of crimes, including murder, robbery and drugs – took several prison staff hostage and broke into a weapons storage room, where they obtained four rifles and six handguns as well as over 200 bullets.

Authorities held negotiations with the six prisoners, which ran through the night, while deploying more than 250 heavily armed officers, including riot police, SWAT teams and a marine assault squad.

It was not clear what prompted the inmates to kill themselves.

Local officials did not storm the prison to prevent even a larger jailbreak or fatalities. The slain prisoners had warned to fire their weapons without hesitation if police wanted to raid the jail.

Lee Rong-tsung, a former councilor at the Kaohsiung City Council, said the inmates were discontent with their “unfair trials” and complained that their jail terms were too long.

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