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26 Turkey Prison Hostages Released

November 3, 2000

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Members of an underworld gang released 26 prison officials and guards Friday, ending a two-day prison riot that left five inmates dead, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Gang leader Nuri Ergin and his men surrendered their guns after talks with regional Governor Ayhan Cevik early Friday. There was no information on the health of the hostages.

It was not clear either why the rioters at Usak prison, near the Aegean port of Izmir, agreed to surrender. Ergin and his brother, who is also an inmate, were later driven to another prison.

On Thursday, Ergin and other members of the Karagumruk gang attacked eight recently transferred inmates, killing five, including three who died after being thrown out of windows. Ergin claimed the slain inmates were members of a rival gang that had arranged to enter the prison to kill him.

For the past year, the Karagumruk gang has been clashing inside and outside of Istanbul prisons with members of the rival criminal gang. The feud began after leaders of the gangs fought for supremacy at an Istanbul prison.

Karagumruk gang members are in prison pending trial on charges of kidnapping, beating and extortion. The gang is one of the leading criminal groups in Istanbul.

Prisons in Turkey are usually overcrowded, prison guards are poorly paid, and rioting and hostage taking are not uncommon. Inmates frequently smuggle in mobile phones and guns.

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