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Idaho officials investigating riot at prison near Boise

April 13, 2021 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Department of Correction officials say they’re still investigating a Saturday prison riot that forced staffers to evacuate a housing unit and left five inmates injured.

The incident began around 4:30 p.m. as security staffers responded to a report of an assault in a housing unit holding about 100 people at the Idaho State Correctional Center, IDOC spokesman Jeff Ray said in a statement Monday evening. That’s when inmates in the housing unit reportedly started destroying property and lit a fire in a trash can, the IDOC said.

The fire forced staffers to evacuate the unit while a special emergency response team worked to regain control of the area. Two nearby housing units holding about 200 more inmates were also evacuated.

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Order was restored by late evening, according to IDOC. Four inmates were taken to a Boise hospital for treatment of injuries that were not life-threatening, Ray said. A fifth inmate was taken to the hospital on Monday for an injury that he apparently sustained during the incident as well. No correctional staffers were hurt.

The housing unit is closed because it’s considered a crime scene and the residents have been moved to other prisons nearby during the investigation, Ray wrote.

Though IDOC has referred to Saturday’s events as a “disturbance,” such incidents are generally considered riots when inmates are able to take control of a portion of a prison for a significant period of time.

Prison officials declined an interview request from The Associated Press. They also declined to answer questions about what may have triggered the riot and any estimated damage to the housing unit.

Prison riots are uncommon in Idaho but some have occurred in recent years, including one at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution in 2018 and another at the Idaho State Correctional Institution in 2009 in which inmates destroyed a newly opened temporary housing unit.