Greek prisoners missing after gunmen storm jail

Police search ground outside the prison near Trikala, Greece, 23 March Police searched the area around the prison on Saturday

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Eleven inmates are missing and two guards injured after gunmen attacked a Greek prison, less than a week after a hostage siege at a different jail.

The gunmen drove up to the prison near Trikala, 320km (200 miles) north-west of Athens, and reportedly attacked a tower with firearms and grenades.

Prisoners appear to have then used ropes to climb down from the tower.

A stand-off continued all night at the jail, only ending at dawn when commandos restored control.

Police set up roadblocks and were using a helicopter to search for the inmates and their accomplices.

According to Greek media, all 11 missing prisoners are Albanians serving sentences for robbery and theft.

Police found 400-500 bullet casings and traces of six grenade blasts after the attack, which began on Friday evening, the Greek news website Kathimerini reports.

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Estimates of the number of attackers vary between six and 16.

Last Sunday, convicted Albanian killer and two-time jail escapee Alket Rizaj surrendered at Malandrino prison, further south, after taking six hostages in a new attempt to break out.

During the drama, photos of the hostages, who appeared to be mostly prison guards, were sent to media by mobile phone.

Greek prisons are suffering from serious overcrowding and staff shortages as the country struggles with the financial crisis which began in late 2008, AP news agency notes.

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