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Troops End Protest At Azerbaijani Prison

16 February 2005 -- Troops have moved into a prison in Baku in an effort to end a protest by inmates that began yesterday, local media report.

More than 100 inmates yesterday broke onto the roof of the maximum-security prison to demand the ouster of the prison warden and better conditions. A smaller group of prisoners remained on the roof overnight.

Russian news agencies said troops early today used teargas and water cannon to end the protest. The reports said shots were heard and several ambulances could be seen leaving the area, but it was unclear if there were any casualties.

There have been no official statements about the situation.

Officials and human rights activists were brought in yesterday for talks with the protesting inmates. A senior Justice Ministry official, Natiq Talybov, said their demands were illegal but pledged authorities would not use force to end the protest.

The reports said inmates at another prison south of Baku also held a brief protest yesterday in a show of solidarity.