Africa

Congo prison mass escape after attack by gunmen

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Nearly 1,000 prisoners have escaped from a jail in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after it was attacked by armed men, officials say.

The attackers wanted to free a militia leader, Katanga province Information Minister Dkianga Kazadi said.

Escapes and mutinies are common in DR Congo's prisons, analysts say, with the east largely lawless as rival militias battle for power.

Nearly 200 prisoners escaped from a jail in the north-west last year.

Mr Kazadi said masked gunmen entered the prison in Katanga's main city unnoticed.

"They opened fire on the police and the military guards, killing two," he said, according to the AFP news agency.

The UN spokesman in DR Congo, Madnodje Mounoubai, told the BBC that a former commander of the Mai Mai militia movement, Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga, had escaped.

Mutanga was sentenced to death in 2009 for his role in the long-running conflict in eastern DR Congo.

Mr Kazadi said police had recaptured 152 of the 967 prisoners who had escaped.

Mr Mounoubai said Mutanga was still on the run.

"Gedeon is among those unaccounted for," he said.

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