Taiwan prison siege ends in 'suicides' of hostage-takers
Six inmates who took a warden and guard hostage at a prison in Kaohshiung, Taiwan have killed themselves after a 14-hour stand-off, say officials.
The inmates had all been convicted of murder, drug-related offences, burglary and a range of other crimes.
They were protesting against their sentences and alleged mistreatment and unfair trials, Taiwanese media report.
Armed with weapons seized from the prison armoury, they were demanding safe passage to leave the prison.
Police had surrounded the prison, one of the largest in Taiwan, after the inmates seized several staff members at about 16:30 local time on Wednesday (08:30 GMT).
The inmates released the first hostages shortly after, when the prison warden and another senior official agreed to take their place.
Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang said late on Wednesday that negotiations were under way, and the prisoners were demanding to be released through a side door.
"The priority now is to negotiate and we won't just answer their demands right away," Mr Chen told reporters.
"Certainly, we have to consider the safety of the hostages. We give the authority to the commander on the ground to deal with the situation. We are following the police in this operation."
The justice ministry said the the ringleader of the group was Cheng Li-te, a member of United Bamboo, one of Taiwan's most powerful Triad organised crime gangs.
In a message delivered by officials, Cheng complained that former Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian - jailed for 20 years for money laundering and accepting bribes - had recently been given medical parole,
Police called in relatives of the inmates to help with the negotiations and try to persuade them to stand down, say media reports.
Then on Thursday morning, Mr Chen told reporters that the inmates had released the hostages before shooting themselves dead.
Police have not released video or other evidence to support their statement. No other injuries have been reported. (via BBC)