In a disturbing e-mail message received by Addis Standard, an eyewitness who said he was on guard the morning of Saturday Sep 3, says that armed prison guards were indiscriminately shooting at prisoners” most of whom were running “frantically to extinguish the fire” that broke at Ethiopia’s notorious prison ward known as Qilinto, in Aqaqi, on the outskirts south of the capital.
The government has not released the extent of the fire, not the cause of it, but several social media accounts allege the death toll reaching above 20.
Until this morning families of prisoners who want to know the safety of their loved ones are not allowed to pass the Tirunesh Beijing Hospital, located at about three km before the prison. Some families said the prison administration told them information on the safety and whereabouts of the prisoners will only be available on Wednesday this week.
In the e-mail, the person who also attached his work ID but said he wishes to remain anonymous wrote many prisoners were “kept at gun point” from approaching the area where the fire was destroying parts of the prison in the “southern end of the ward.” “I have seen about five prisoners gunned down in the spot by armed security guards from two different towers during the first 20 minutes only,” the email said. It added: “unarmed guards at the gate, including myself, were told by the prison admiration to instruct family members who were already at the gate and who came to visit their loved ones to return back.”
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