updated 11/2/2013 2:06:06 PM ET 2013-11-02T18:06:06

RIYADH (Reuters) - A fire broke out at a prison in northern Saudi Arabia and rioting and gunshots were reported, a Saudi news website said on Saturday.

A Saudi official confirmed a fire had broken out at the prison but said it had been brought under control.

The official said a statement was expected later from prison authorities.

The news website www.sabq.org reported that security forces were at the scene in the Buraidah prison, where the fire was reported in three rooms. It said there were reports of riots and gunshots inside the prison but gave no further details.

Local residents said the inmates were being held for criminal offences in the prison, which is located in an old part of the capital of al-Qassim province.

Prisoners held for security offences or for involvement in anti-government political activities are held at a different facility far from the site of the riots, they said.

(Reporting by Sami Aboudi and Angus McDowall; Editing by Gareth Jones)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

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