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Taliban inmates begin hunger strike at Kandahar prison

[JURIST] More than 350 Taliban [JURIST news archive] inmates began a hunger strike on Sunday at the Sarposa prison in Kandahar [JURIST news archive] province in Afghanistan. The protest [Global and Mail report] is in response to the allegedly poor conditions within the prison, including the quality of the food and abuse by guards. The Afghan Ministry of Justice [official website] has sent a delegation to the prison to investigate. The Ministry of Justice fears the hungry strike could be a sign of a potential prison break attempt, after authorities learned that trucks loaded with explosives were instructed to destroy the prison walls. Millions of dollars have been spent [CTV report] in the last year in an effort to bolster security at the prison. The Afghan government has also increased the armed presence at the facility in recent days.

Security concerns are nothing new at the notorious prison. Last June, at least 870 inmates, with some reports estimating the number as being closer to 1,100, escaped [JURIST report] the prison after members of the Taliban conducted a bomb and rocket attack. The current heightened level of security is understandable as last year's prison break came just a month after an estimated 200-300 prisoners had ended [JURIST report] a similar hunger strike. The detainees were then protesting the slow nature of the Afghanistan judicial system and complaints that judicial rulings were being made based on allegations by US authorities. The hunger strike lasted for approximately one week.

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