Eight inmates in a maximum-security prison in the central Kazakh town of Atbasar have maimed themselves by slashing their abdomens, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
Kazakh Penitentiary System Control Department spokeswoman Irina Gornova told RFE/RL that five of the prisoners were hospitalized on February 28, while the other three were treated at the prison. Gornova said all eight are in satisfactory condition.
She said the acts of self-mutilation were carried out by inmates who wanted better prison conditions.
Vadim Kuramshin, a well-known Kazakh human rights activist, told RFE/RL that his sources in the penitentiary told him that dozens of prisoners -- not just eight -- had maimed themselves in the Atbasar jail on February 28.
Kuramshin said that number could be as high as 60 inmates.
He said three of the inmates -- Bagaldin Tekiev, Quanysh Ishataev, and a prisoner whose surname is Baranov -- remain hospitalized in critical condition.
Gornova did not confirm Kuramshin's statement and repeated that only eight inmates had maimed themselves at the jail.
There have been numerous cases of self-mutilation by prisoners in Kazkahstan in recent months. Kazakh human rights activists have urged the authorities to improve prison conditions. They say human rights are routinely abused in Kazakh prisons.
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