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Guantanamo prisoners attack guards trying to stop suicide attempt

[JURIST] Four detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] attempted to commit suicide on Thursday, and several other prisoners attacked US soldiers who tried to intervene, according to a US military spokesman. Three of the detainees ingested a large amount of prescription drugs they had stockpiled, and were treated with activated charcoal. The last detainee tried to hang himself, but guards were able to stop the attempt despite the efforts of other detainees to repel them using fans, lighting fixtures and other items as makeshift weapons. The detainees were moved to a maximum security area of the facility after the attempts, while two of the prisoners who overdosed on medication were held for observation at the prison hospital.

The military spokesman said 23 Guantanamo prisoners have made 39 suicide attempts since the facility opened in 2003. In November 2005, the repeated suicide attempts [JURIST report] of detainee Jumah Dossari [Amnesty International case sheet] were highly publicized. Several detainees have also participated in hunger strikes, prompting guards to use force-feeding [JURIST report] to keep them alive. Reuters has more, and provides additional coverage.

7:52 PM ET - US military officials said [US Southern Command statement, PDF] later Friday that the suicide attempt was a ruse to lure US guards into a medium-security Camp 4 [DOD photos] cell where inmates were waiting to ambush them, and that the intensity of the assault on guards by inmates armed with improvised weapons. [US Southern Command photos] was such that at one point "we were losing the fight", in the words of Army Col. Mike Bumgarner. Guards used pepper spray and fired a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with rubber balls to stop the fight, which last four to five minutes. Six prisoners were treated for what were described as "minor injuries." A military spokesman also said that inmates in three of the five units at Camp 4 had rioted, and that it took an hour to quell that disturbance. Inmates were moved from there into a maximum security facilty.

US officials added that only two detainees had made suicide attempts by ingesting pills, and both were still unconscious although in stable condition. Reuters has more.

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