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Six prisoners die in Ohio jail riot

LUCASVILLE, Ohio - Prison inmates held eight guards hostage yesterday in the aftermath of a riot in which six convicts were killed, allegedly by fellow prisoners. The six dead men were apparently beaten to death, said Sharron Kornegay, a spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

At least 18 other people were injured in the uprising on Sunday at the maximum-security Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. They included 10 guards and eight inmates, said Ms Kornegay. The eight male guards held hostage told authorities they were being treated well, Ms Kornegay said. Electricity and water to the cell block were shut off. In the rest of the prison, which houses 1,819 inmates, including some of the state's most dangerous, prisoners were confined to their cells.

The disturbance began in the prison yard after a recreation period on Sunday afternoon among inmates from the L block, according to an official of the prison guards' union. By the time guards arrived, the fight had escalated into a full-blown riot, authorities said, with inmates armed with batons taken from guards.

Ms Koregay said the dead men suffered 'extensive injures'. 'I think it's probably pretty obvious who killed them. Our staff wouldn't do that,' she said. Ms Kornegay added the prison had been preparing for a lockdown today because some inmates had raised religious objections to taking a tuberculosis test.

A minor disturbance was reported at the nearby Scioto County Jail on Sunday night, said Major Delbert Slusher of the county sheriff's department. After hearing radio reports of the prison riot, jail inmates set fire to mattresses and knocked down security cameras, Mr Slusher said. No injuries were reported and 68 prisoners in that section of the jail were confined to their cells yesterday morning, he said.