MIAMI – Months of increased tension at the Guantanamo Bay prison boiled over into a clash between guards and detainees Saturday as the military closed a communal section of the facility and moved its inmates into single cells.

The violence erupted during an early morning raid that military officials said was necessary because prisoners had covered up security cameras and windows as part of a weekslong protest and hunger strike over their indefinite confinement and conditions at the U.S. base in Cuba.

Prisoners fought guards with makeshift weapons that included broomsticks when troops arrived to move them out of a communal wing of the section of the prison known as Camp 6, said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a military spokesman. Guards responded by firing four “less-than-lethal rounds,” he said.

There were no serious injuries from the rounds, which included a modified shotgun shell that fires small rubber pellets as well as a type of bean-bag projectile, said Army Col. Greg Julian, a spokesman for Miami-based U.S. Southern Command.

“I know for sure that one detainee was hit but the injuries were minor, just some bruises,” Julian said.

The confrontation came a day after a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross finished a three-week visit to Guantanamo to meet with prisoners and assess conditions.

“The ICRC continues to follow the current tensions and the hunger strike at Guantanamo very closely and with concern,” spokesman Simon Schorno said. “If necessary, an ICRC team will in coming days return to Guantanamo to assess the situation of the detainees on hunger strike in view of this latest development.”

Camp 6 had previously been a section of the camp reserved for detainees who followed prison rules. They were allowed to share meals and pray together, have nearly round-the-clock recreation time as well as access to satellite TV, computer games and classes. It held a majority of the 166 prisoners at the base before the hunger strike began, but the military said the number was down to fewer than 70.

 


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