BEIRUT: Inmates at Lebanon’s largest prison briefly held 10 policemen hostage Saturday and urged Pope Benedict XVI, who is on a three-day visit to the country, to help secure them amnesty from the state, security sources said.
The riot, which erupted around noon, occurred in the B wing of Roumieh prison, where approximately 700 inmates are held, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The prisoners originally burned bed sheets and trash cans, causing plumes of smoke that could be seen from afar, before taking 10 members of the police hostage.
The Internal Security Forces’ Panthers unit, anti-riot police and Army Special Forces were dispatched to contain the unrest and have managed to restore calm at the facility.
The prisoners released the 10 policemen in their custody after authorities promised to convey their demands to the relevant authorities.
The prisoners urged Pope Benedict to appeal to the Lebanese state for clemency.
Inmates at overcrowded Roumieh have rioted in the past over poor living conditions.