OAKDALE, LA., NOV. 21 -- Rioting Cuban inmates took hostages and set fires tonight inside the Federal Alien Detention Center, injuring at least 10 guards and two prisoners, and law enforcement authorities sealed off the facility, officials said.
The uprising came one day after the State Department announced it would repatriate 2,500 Cubans, most of them criminals or mentally ill, who came to this country in the 1980 Mariel boatlift.
Five people were admitted to Humana Hospital -- a guard who had been assaulted and four people suffering from smoke inhalation, a hospital administrator said. The prison is about 175 miles northwest of New Orleans.
Allen Parish Sherriff John Durio said an unknown number of hostages had been taken, and that one was later released. He did not say whether the hostages were inmates, guards or other prison workers.
Oakdale Fire Chief Thomas Moore said several buildings were burning inside the 1,000-bed prison, but it was not clear how many. Gunshots also were reported.
Police cordoned off an area within a one-mile radius of the prison, and state troopers in New Orleans were placed on alert. Additional prison guards were brought in from Texas and Mississippi.
Most of the inmates arrived in the United States during the 1980 boatlift. About 100 of them have been convicted of crimes.
"The Cubans believe they will be sent back to Cuba," said Luenette Johnson, a spokeswoman for the center. She said 1,000 of the center's 1,050 inmates were Cubans.
The facility opened in April 1986 as a minimum-security detention center for illegal aliens and candidates for political asylum. In November 1986 it began the transition to a long-term holding facility for Cubans.