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U.S. military defends Guantanamo prison raid

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — Top officials at the Guantanamo Bay detention center on Tuesday defended a raid that resulted in a violent clash with detainees, saying the operation was critical and the handful of injuries on both sides were minor.

Army soldiers with riot helmets and shields swept into recreation yards and met with resistance from several dozen prisoners, the leadership of the detention center said in an interview with journalists visiting the U.S. base in Cuba for the first time since Saturday’s clash.

The confrontation ended within minutes, but not before two guards were struck in the head by prisoners and five of the prisoners were injured, including one struck by rubber pellets from what the military calls a “less-than-lethal” round fired from a modified shotgun.

“The appropriate amount of force was used for the situation,” said Navy Rear Adm. John W. Smith, the commander of the detention center.

The guard force raided Camp 6 because the prisoners had for several weeks covered up 147 of the 160 security cameras, making it impossible to monitor them amid an ongoing hunger strike. Smith and members of his leadership team said they were concerned a prisoner might try to commit suicide and there were two attempted suicides since the protest began around Feb. 6.