Fire sparks riot and gunshots at Ghana prison, 1 inmate dead

ACCRA - A fire at the main prison in the Ghanaian city of Kumasi sparked rioting and an attempted jail break, with one inmate shot dead in the chaos and four policemen hurt, prison officials said Thursday.

The fire was caused by lightning and began in one of the cells before engulfing much of the jail, Kumasi prison spokesman James Annan said.

"We had to open the inmates' (cells) for their lives to be spared," he told AFP.

Once in the yard, scores of inmates tried to escape but were blocked by a large deployment of police surrounding the compound.

Prisoners hurled bricks, chairs and other dangerous objects at the officers and over the prison wall, Annan said.

As the situation threatened to deteriorate, more officers were dispatched from the capital Accra in the south to maintain calm.

One inmate "attempted to snatch a weapon from one of the police officers during the chaos", Annan continued. "Another officer looking on shot him and he died." He added that four officers were severely injured in the fracas.

"Now everything is calm... nobody managed to escape," the spokesman said.

The private Joy FM radio station reported on its website that large vans had been deployed to the prison in the central city and that the inmates were set to be transferred.