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British prisoners set overcrowded prison on fire

BRITISH prisoners set part of their jail alight on Saturday during a riot, which police took hours to quell, an official said.

The blazes were lit inside the overcrowded Ashwell prison near Oakham, 160 kilometers north of London, after hundreds of inmates ran amok, breaking into its shop area and raiding its pharmacy, police said. No casualties were reported.

Pete Chapple, leader of the Prisoner Officers' Association, said the riot ended Saturday evening. "We anticipated it would go on throughout the night but it has climaxed earlier than we thought," he said. "It will take a long time to clear up the mess though. Around 75 percent of the jail is damaged."

Britain's prisons are overcrowded and opposition politicians have said the government has failed to provide enough lockups.

Despite emergency measures such as early-release programs, Britain is struggling to find space for its nearly 83,000 inmates - 11 percent more than its national capacity.


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