BURIRAM: Riot and prison escape linked with virus fears. A fire broke out within the prison near the cafeteria and training workshops just after midday as riot police and military units took control of battling the outbreak. It is now reported that the situation is under control but with some escaped prisoners still at large. Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin has briefed the press.
On Sunday, a prison riot and attempted breakout by inmates was reported at Buriram Prison. There are currently military and police units at the facility in the northeastern province. The riot began after prisoners suspected, wrongly, that the prison had become the scene of Covbid 19 coronavirus infections. The riot appears to have been the cover for a prison escape masterminded by a minority group of inmates who used fear of the coronavirus to that end.
A violent disturbance and clashes with security forces have broken out at a prison in Buriram province in Thailand.
The initial conflagration began late in the morning with reports from 11.45 am of fire and smoke seen coming from the main prison building in the compound at Buriram Prison.
Unconfirmed reports of an attempted prison escape
It is not clear what the exact nature of the disturbance is but there are unconfirmed reports of some prisoners attempting to escape the facility or being unaccounted for.
After the initial disturbance, it was reported that the army and anti-riot officers from the police service were being deployed at the scene. Some parts of the prison were secured.
Two inmates seriously injured and taken to hospital
After this, two seriously injured prisoners were taken to hospital and there were reports of prisoners having taken some prison wardens hostage.
It is reported that up to 100 prisoners are involved in the current disturbance and engagement with security forces at the facility.
Electricity to the prison is cut
Electricity to prison has been cut and some prison areas including dormitories, the cafeteria and training workshops have been damaged by the fire.
The initial breakout of hostilities is believed to be linked to an attempted escape from the prison which houses 2,000 inmates with fire from the prison first observed at 12.20 pm.
Mental health workers brought in
Mental health workers were later deployed by authorities to the prison to help deal prisoners deal with the situation and fears centred on the coronavirus outbreak.
This was confirmed by Major General Akkaradej Pimonsri. ‘The situation is under control,’ he assured the press.
Justice Minister briefs the media
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsuthin briefed the media on Sunday. He said that the riot was instigated and led by a hardcore group of inmates serving life sentences. This was the 100 mentioned in earlier reports.
Mr Somsak said that the group intentionally fanned the rumours towards their own ends.
‘The fact is that none of the prisoners in Buri Ram was infected, they only started this rumour to find some supporters,’ the minister explained. He did confirm that while 7 prisoners had been recaptured from the prison escape, some still remain missing.