BANGKOK (AP) — Officials in Thailand say a riot at a prison in a northeastern province was set off when inmates plotting to escape spread false rumors that several prisoners were infected with the coronavirus.
Fires were set in parts of Buriram Prison during a riot on Sunday in which about 100 prisoners took part, and gunshots were fired in the operation to quash the violence. The facility houses about 2,100 inmates.
Corrections Department Director-General Narat Sawettanan said no one was killed in the uproar but several people were injured. Thai media reported five people hurt.
Seven inmates who had escaped were recaptured, said Narat. It was not clear if any others were still at large.
Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin said the riot was instigated by a small group who circulated the rumor about coronavirus infections to create a situation in which they could escape.
Thailand’s Public Health Ministry previously announced that two prisoners at a facility it didn’t specify were found to be infected with the virus, and the Corrections Department on March 18 banned inmates’ relatives nationwide from prison visits for 14 days.
Thai prisons have a reputation for being overcrowded.