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Bahrain offers prisoners extra rights after mass hunger strike

— Dubai (AFP)

Bahraini authorities have agreed to offer prisoners extra rights, including more visiting hours, following a hundreds-strong hunger strike that activists say is the largest in the country's history.

The interior ministry late Monday said it would "increase the duration of visitations" and was looking to increase the time inmates are allowed outdoors -- a step that has so far failed to quell the hunger strike at Jau prison that started in early August.

According to the Britain-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), at least 800 inmates are taking part, many of them dissidents detained during a 2011 crackdown on Shiite-led protests. Bahraini authorities have downplayed the incident.

"This offer is too little, too late. It comes after 22 days of Bahrain's biggest hunger strike in its prison history," said Sayed Alwadaei, BIRD's advocacy director.

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