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Weapon used to quell Gitmo disturbance ID'd

Mar. 7, 2013 - 06:32PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 7, 2013 - 06:32PM  |  
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The weapon used to quell a disturbance at the Guantanamo Bay prison was a modified shotgun that fires a shell packed with small rubber pellets, the Pentagon said Thursday.

A guard fired one "crowd-dispersal round," during the Jan. 2 incident and a detainee was struck by one of the pellets or by ricochet, Army Lt. Col. Joseph Todd Breasseale said.

The Pentagon spokesman said it was an M-103 Non-Lethal Round, which contains about 18 small rubber balls, each about 1/3 of an inch in diameter, or the size of a blueberry.

"It was a minor wound. As you can imagine these come out at a fairly high velocity but it wasn't serious enough to warrant medical care ... and when they offered it for follow-up he said he didn't want any," Breasseale said.

Earlier, Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the prison on the U.S. base in Cuba, had declined to identify the type of weapon used, describing the guards' response only as "non-lethal force."

The military disclosed the incident this week after attorney Clive Stafford Smith, who has represented dozens of Guantanamo prisoners on behalf of the British human rights group Reprieve, released a letter he sent to the commander of the prison on the U.S. base in Cuba requesting an investigation.

The military says the brief disturbance occurred when a detainee attempted to climb a fence and a small crowd of detainees began throwing rocks at a guard tower. Smith said in his letter that a prisoner was only trying to get the attention of a guard so he could enter a recreation yard.

The military said the incident was reviewed and officials determined the guard followed procedures.

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