MOSCOW, July 28 (RIA Novosti) – About 1,200 convicts have escaped from a prison in the restive eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, China’s Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday, citing local security officials.
The mass escape from the al-Kuifiya prison took place on Saturday after a fierce riot, during which some prisoners set fire to the prison complex, according to witness reports, while a security official said some unidentified gunmen started to attack the prison from the outside.
Most of the escapees face serious criminal charges and some were involved in supporting the regime of ex-leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was ousted in the domestic conflict in 2011, the security official said.
Some of those who escaped from the prison were recaptured by the police and security forces who were ordered not to fire at the prisoners as some of them were of foreign nationalities. Another security official said, however, three escapees were wounded when they were chased by prison guards, according to Xinhua.
Local media said the unidentified gunmen who attacked the prison might be residents living nearby who stormed the jail in protest against its existence in their district. No official remarks about the cause of the incident have been made yet.
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said in a televised speech after the mass jailbreak that the escapes would be wanted by the authorities across the country. He also ordered to close the border crossing with Egypt to prevent their further escape.
Benghazi has been one of Libya’s most unstable parts since the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime. Last year the US ambassador and three other American embassy staff were killed in Benghazi.