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Special Forces Try to Restore Order at a Kyrgyz Prison, Sparking Riots

Kyrgyzstan's top prison official has been reported injured amid a special operation to restore order at a local prison outside the capital, Bishkek, where a leading lawmaker was killed last month. The prison riots underscore Kyrgyzstan's continued instability.

Anxious relatives rushed the gates outside prison number 31, northwest of Bishkek, Tuesday morning after a mission to restore order as directed by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev turned violent.

Eyewitnesses say gunfire rang out from the prison for a full 30 minutes, as armoured personnel carriers and interior ministry troops quickly encircled the perimeter.

There are still no official, confirmed reports on casualties.

Meanwhile, local media report the outbreak of riots at two other prisons in Kyrgyzstan, one near Bishkek and the other in the south of the country, in Jalal Abad.

President Bakiyev negotiated an end to five days of protests in connection with the lawmaker's murder just last week by promising to punish those found responsible.