TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Around 20 prisoners and two guards were killed in clashes at a maximum security prison in Tajikistan's northern city of Khujand, security sources said.

The prison in Tajikistan's second-largest city is home to prisoners serving long sentences for serious crimes including extremism and murder.

One of the sources said "around 20 prisoners" died in clashes that also claimed the lives of two guards. The second source confirmed the number of victims and said a further six guards had been injured.

The ex-Soviet country's government has yet to confirm the prison riot or the deaths.

"A riot involving dozens of prisoners occurred Wednesday night and continued into Thursday," one of the security sources told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Another source said the riot had begun when prisoners seized "cutting objects" from a workshop in the prison.

The prison in Khujand, located some 300 kilometers (186 miles) to the north of the capital Dushanbe, has seen prison breaks in the past.

In 2016, a guard and a prisoner were killed after three inmates initiated a jailbreak.

At the time the interior ministry said the prisoners had planned to join the ranks of the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.