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Mass riot at French prison after inmates escape from cells

Guillaume Sauvant AFP | the jail of Vivonne near Poitiers, western France.

Dozens of inmates at a prison in central France escaped from their cells and rioted on Monday after stealing the keys of a warden, prison sources said.

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"Two prisoners jostled a guard and managed to steal his keys, which allowed them to open all the cells," union official Emmanuel Giraud told AFP.

The inmates of the Vivonne prison in the centre-west town of Poitiers then set fire to one of the prison buildings and "broke everything," added Giraud.

Six inmates and five guards were hospitalised for smoke inhalation, officials said.

The flames, which spread through one floor of the three-storey building, were later put out by fire-fighters.

The incident began after a prisoner was refused parole and encouraged others to rebel with him, a prison source said.

The unrest broke out at 5:00 pm local time (1500 GMT) and order was restored five hours later, the justice ministry said.

Some 60 inmates had refused to return to their cells following the riot.

The Vivonne prison is an ultra-modern facility, built in 2009 with a capacity for 578 inmates.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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