Iran: Evin prison fire death toll rises to eight, says judiciary
At least eight prisoners have died from a fire at Tehran’s Evin prison which broke out over the weekend, Iran’s judiciary said on Monday, doubling the previously reported death toll.
Footage of the fire at the notorious prison in the Iranian capital, accompanied by sirens and gunfire, circulated on social media on Saturday night.
"The total number of victims of the fire and the clash between prisoners has reached eight," said the judiciary's Mizan Online website.
It added that all the victims were being held in a section of the prison designated for robbery-related crimes.
According to Iranian media, the fire was caused by a premeditated jailbreak, and the sounds of explosions heard ringing out were inmates caught in a minefield.
Fars, a news agency linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported that the fire was started in a clothing warehouse, and that inmates had prepared weapons which they used to attempt a breakout.
"In the middle of the fire and the conflict with the security forces, some prisoners tried to escape. They entered the minefield on the north side of the prison, where there is a mountain. It is said that the explosions heard were related to this issue," Fars reported.
The judiciary initially confirmed that four inmates had died from smoke inhalation, and at least sixty-one others were wounded.
The blaze occurred as protesters marked a month since demonstrations against Iran's "morality police" and hijab laws broke out following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.
Human rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed by authorities cracking down on the protests, including teenage girls.
The timing of the fire sparked speculation it was connected to the protest movement, something quickly denied by the Tehran prosecutor.
Evin prison holds thousands of people, including political prisoners and dual nationals believed to be used as leverage against western countries.
British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was held there for six years before being released in March.
Prominent foreign inmates Evin continues to hold include French-Iranian academic Fariba Abdelkhah and US citizen Siamak Namazi, whose family said he had been taken back into custody days ago after a temporary release.
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