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French prisoners seize guards

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PARIS, France (CNN) -- Three guards have been taken hostage at a prison in central France, the justice ministry has said.

Two other guards originally seized at Moulin Yzeure prison in Allier region on Monday were later released by the 33 prisoners, officials added.

About 150 members of the security forces were sent to the prison and police were starting negotiations with the hostage-takers in the afternoon.

"The situation is stable for the moment while the intervention teams are being deployed" an official from the National Gendarmerie told CNN.

The justice ministry said in a statement it was not known what demands, if any, the prisoners were making, Reuters reported.

The hostage-taking comes just weeks after prison lobby group OIP condemned conditions as being on a "descent to hell." It said a government crackdown on crime had led to overcrowding and poor standards.

More than half of France's 185 prisons are more than 100 years old and some cells are too dilapidated to use. A spate of jailbreaks in recent years has underlined security problems.

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