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'22 escaped Niger prison during unrest'

03 June 2013, 07:17

Niamey - Several "terrorists" were among 22 inmates who escaped a prison in the Niger capital Niamey during unrest in which three guards were killed, the government said on Sunday.

They included Cheibane Ould Hama of Mauritania, who was convicted of killing four Saudis and a US citizen, Justice Minister Marou Amadou told a press briefing, adding that Hama was "actively sought".

Amadou, who also acts as government spokesperson, confirmed that inmates facing terrorism charges had killed three guards during the shootout on Saturday.

The breakout happened a little over a week after twin suicide bombings claimed 20 lives in the north of the west African country on May 23.

Two jihadist groups - Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao) and Signatories in Blood - claimed the attacks, saying they were in retaliation for Niger's intervention in neighbouring Mali.

The escaped prisoners are "a danger for the region", a Malian security source said.

"It has emerged from initial investigations at the site that the aggressors obviously benefited from outside complicity regarding the weapon introduced into the prison," Amadou said.



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