Inmates riot in Afghanistan prison
At least 7 killed, prison officials say
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Afghan police and soldiers surrounded the nation's highest security prison after an uprising broke out in three sections containing hundreds of inmates.
Prison officials said at least seven inmates were killed and others were wounded.
More than 1,000 police and members of the Afghan national army could be seen moving into locations around Policharki Prison outside Kabul on Sunday afternoon.
At least three people who appeared to be U.S. soldiers were involved as well. There were Humvees parked outside, and the three were in U.S. military uniforms.
Some shots could be heard from inside. A predator drone flew overhead.
Later, some of the forces dispersed, and those who remained pulled back -- keeping security outside the prison, but making it appear unlikely they would storm the facility.
The sections involved included the women's block housing about 500, the political prisoners block containing as many as 900, and a criminal block housing about 700. Combined, about 2,000 prisoners are in the three blocks.
The inmates were chanting various slogans, including "God is Great," "Death to America" and "Down with Karzai," a reference to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Interior Ministry sources said the prisoners were objecting to a new rule requiring them to wear a prison uniform.
Policharki is the most notorious prison in Afghanistan.
It is a crumbling, Soviet-built complex in the desert with anti-aircraft guns mounted on turrets pointing inward toward the prison. During the Soviet period, it housed opponents of the regime; torture and execution of prisoners were commonplace. About 70,000 bodies are believed to be buried around the prison in unmarked mass graves.
In August 2004, a U.N. inspection of the prison that called for the release of 725 Taliban prisoners inside said the conditions "violate every standard of human rights."
In December 2004, a number of al Qaeda prisoners -- three Pakistanis and an Iraqi -- attempted to break out after using razor blades to kill a guard and seize weapons. Eight people, including the would-be escapees, were killed in the 12-hour gun battle that followed.
Last month, seven Taliban prisoners escaped.
A modern, high-security wing being built at Policharki with international money to house major drug traffickers is supposed to be operative in six months.
-- Journalist Thomas Coghlan contributed to this story
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