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Arizona hostage standoff enters 14th day

One of the two hostage-taking inmates, dressed as a guard, receives a package from prison officials Friday at the facility near Buckeye, Arizona.
One of the two hostage-taking inmates, dressed as a guard, receives a package from prison officials Friday at the facility near Buckeye, Arizona.

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BUCKEYE, Arizona (CNN) -- Arizona Department of Corrections officials aimed floodlights overnight at a state prison tower where two inmates have been holding a woman guard hostage for two weeks.

It was the first time the three-story tower has been illuminated since January 18, when two inmates stormed the watchtower at the high-security institution, taking two guards hostage. The standoff is in its 14th day.

The hostage-taking inmates released a male guard January 24. He suffered minor injuries during the time he was held, officials said.

Corrections officials did not say why they used floodlights. Witnesses said the lights were turned on intermittently for long periods all night.

On Friday evening, corrections department spokeswoman Cam Hunter said health-care workers monitored a phone call with the remaining hostage and reported she was alert and mobile.

"Without a full assessment, we don't know exactly what her condition is," Hunter said, "but they feel ... she's hanging in there."

Ivan Bartos, warden of the Arizona State Prison Complex-Yuma, said the hostage "appears to be OK."

Officials have not released the identities of the guards or inmates, nor have they shared information about the negotiations with the prisoners.

Hunter said officials wanted nothing over the airwaves that could hinder the negotiations. But, she noted, "the process has never been broken off" and "there are some very positive signs."

The hostage-takers have allowed "health and welfare checks" of the guard, either by phone or by video, and officials have provided food and beverages upon request, Hunter said.

The 4,600 other prisoners at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis near Buckeye have been under lockdown since the situation began.

The prison is about 17 miles southwest of Phoenix.


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