DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan has opened a criminal investigation after 14 prisoners were fatally poisoned during transport between jails, the Justice Ministry said Monday (July 8), suggesting that another inmate may have given them contaminated bread.
The incident happened on Sunday (July 7) as more than 100 prisoners, including eight women, were being transferred in a convoy from prisons in the north of the Central Asian country to jails in the south.
The ministry said in a statement that a prisoner handed around bread to a group of 16 inmates travelling in one of the vehicles during a stop on the journey.
It said that "16 prisoners, who were in the back of one of the cars, experienced nausea, dizziness and vomiting" half an hour after consuming the bread.
Medical staff could save only two of the affected prisoners, according to the statement, which was relayed by the Khovar state information agency.
The state prosecutor has opened a criminal case, the ministry said.
The incident comes after a riot inside a prison near Dushanbe in May left 32 people dead, including three guards, sparking fears over the security of prisons in the country.
Authorities blamed "Islamic State" (IS) for the riot.