More than 800 inmates have escaped from a prison in eastern DR Congo after gunmen staged a jailbreak in which two policemen were killed, sources said Wednesday.
Armed men “attacked Kakwangura central prison in the town of Mutembo” overnight Tuesday, Captain Antony Mualushayi, the military spokesman in the Beni region, said.
“The initial toll, which is still provisional, is two policemen killed,” he said, adding that an assailant had also died.
A source in the prison service, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that out of the 872 inmates, all but 49 had escaped.
Mualushayi said an “unidentified Mai-Mai group” carried out the attack. The term Mai-Mai refers to an ethnic self-defense organization, which is legion in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east.
But a respected US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker (KST), said on Twitter that the suspects were the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) — a bloody militia that the Islamic State group says is its regional affiliate.
At least two police died and all the inmates escaped, the KST added.
In the night of Tuesday 9th to Wednesday 10th of August, the central prison of #Kakwangura (city of #Butembo, North #Kivu) was attacked by a group of assailants. The attack caused the death of at least two policemen and the flight of all detainees. The #ADF are suspected #DRC pic.twitter.com/F7h7y33L6C
— Baromètre sécuritaire du Kivu (@KivuSecurity) August 10, 2022
The ADF has been blamed for thousands of deaths in eastern DRC, especially in the Beni area, and for attacks in neighboring Uganda.
The east of the DRC, a vast country the size of continental western Europe, has been unstable for decades.
Scores of armed groups roam the region, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared at the end of the last century.