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Hostages freed from Moscow prison

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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian police forced three inmate hostage-takers to release their 15 captives unharmed Monday after an hours-long standoff at a pretrial detention center in southeast Moscow, said Interfax news agency, quoting prison system director Yuri Kalinin.

Russian police used concussion grenades and other nonlethal force to free the hostages, one of whom was the prison director, Kalinin said. The raid took only one-and-a-half minutes, he said. The three inmates were arrested.

The incident began about 4 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) when prison wardens were attacked, disarmed and taken hostage during a routine prison walk, Interfax reported. The hostage-takers barricaded themselves in a room with their victims, it said.

Federal Penitentiary Service spokesman Alexander Sidorov said the hostage-takers -- all of whom have been sentenced for serious crimes, including homicide -- believe their sentences were too harsh and are demanding to be retried.

During the crisis, riot police surrounded the prison and blocked roads in the industrial zone leading to it.

Sidorov had said that psychologists were involved in negotiations with the hostage-takers, but contingency plans were being made.

"If they fail to find a solution, other specialists will step in," he had said.

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