Tis the season for international jail breaks!

June 30, 2013: Nigeria

Gunmen shot dead two civilians and then used explosives to free 175 inmates from a prison in Nigeria’s southern town of Akure overnight, a prison official said on Sunday. Islamist sect Boko Haram and al Qaeda-linked group Ansaru have been behind several prison raids in recent years. It was not clear whether they were behind this jail break at Olokuta prison in Ondo state or whether they had members held there.  “The unknown gunmen numbering over 20 came at about midnight into the Olokuta prison through the main gate after using dynamite,” Prison Comptroller Tunde Olayiwola told Reuters.

July 11, 2013: Indonesia

 Indonesian police are searching for potentially hundreds of escaped inmates following a deadly prison riot in Medan, the capital of the province of North Sumatra. At least five people died, including two guards and three prisoners. More than 200 inmates, some of whom were jailed on terrorism charges, broke free from the maximum-security facility Thursday when the “water supply was cut off because of a power outage,” said Ronny Sompie, the National Police Spokesman Brigadier General. Angry prisoners, unable to bathe or use the bathroom, burned the door to the prison offices, stole guns and took guards hostage.

July 21, 2013: Iraq

Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility Tuesday for a jailbreak from the infamous Abu Ghraib prison that unleashed hundreds of militants into an already unstable region and boosted the group’s resurgent fortunes in Iraq and Syria.  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant said in a statement that hundreds of prisoners were freed late Sunday in two coordinated assaults in which fighters used suicide bombs and mortars to storm the two top security prisons on Baghdad’s outskirts at Abu Ghraib and Taji. Both were once run by the U.S. military and housed the country’s most senior al-Qaeda detainees. At least 26 members of the Iraqi security forces and more than a dozen prisoners were killed as the insurgents battled to breach the prison walls, Iraqi officials said…The assailants were helped at both prisons, the ministry said, by “collusion” from guards inside.  The Iraqi government has not confirmed how many prisoners were set free, and officials said they were still trying to count those who got away. In Washington, U.S. officials put the number of escapees at between 500 and 600, including a significant number of al-Qaeda operatives. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant said that the inmates freed in the raid included “over 500 jihadis … who were trained by war and prepared by battle.” They have been “taken to secure locations away from the enemy,” the statement added.

July 24, 2013: Ivory Coast

At least three inmates were killed and a number injured in a mutiny at the Ivory Coast’s biggest prison, security and prison officials said on Wednesday.  The mutiny was quelled by security forces who surrounded the compound and fired teargas and live bullets into the building.  The MACA prison in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan holds some of the country’s most violent prisoners as well as officials from former President Laurent Gbagbo’s government.  “It was a mutiny at the prison that was quickly put down in order to keep it from getting out of control. There were three deaths,” said Lieutenant Moussa Doumbia, head of the unit that put down the uprising. Prison guards said the incident began in a cell-block on Tuesday evening.  “They broke down the doors to their cells and then freed their comrades in other buildings. They entered the courtyard and were trying to escape. They were very threatening,” said one guard, who asked not to be named.

July 27, 2013: Switzerland

Members of an international network of jewel thieves with a flair for the dramatic staged an assault on a Swiss prison to liberate two members being held inside that was straight from the opening scene of an action movie.  Milan Poparic, a 34-year-old Bosnian and member of the gang, was broken out of a Swiss prisonwith a fellow inmate after receiving help from two other Pink Panther members. Poparic was serving a six year and eight month sentence for robbing a Swiss jewelry store in 2009. The gang members on the outside drove two vans into the prison’s barbed-wire fence system while inmates were in the yard exercising. While suppressing the guards with AK-47 fire, they set up ladders for Poparic and his inmate friend to hop the fence and get in one of the vans. The other van was set on fire to distract the guards while the culprits made their escape.

July 27, 2013: Libya

More than a thousand inmates escaped a prison Saturday in Libya as protesters stormed political party offices across the country, signs of the simmering unrest gripping a nation overrun by militias and awash in weaponry.  It wasn’t immediately clear if the jailbreak at al-Kweifiya prison came as part of the demonstrations. Protesters had massed across Libya over the killing of an activist critical of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood group. Inmates started a riot and set fires after security forces opened fire on three detainees who tried to escape the facility outside of Benghazi, a security official at al-Kweifiya prison said. Gunmen quickly arrived to the prison after news of the riot spread, opening fire with rifles outside in a bid to free their imprisoned relatives, a Benghazi-based security official said.

July 30, 2013: Pakistan

Around 243 prisoners, including 30 “hardcore militants,” escaped from the heavily guarded Central Prison in the city of Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on Monday night when more than 100 militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy arms attacked the facility.  The highly coordinated assault began when the attackers blew up the prison’s electricity line, detonated bombs they had planted around the facility to breach its external wall, and opened fire on the prison’s security forces.  According to multiple reports, around 70 of the militants were in police uniforms, and they used megaphones to call out to specific prisoners, freeing them from their cells with hand grenades.  At least 14 people were killed in the attack, including six policemen and six Shi’a prisoners whose throats were slashed by the gunmen. 

 

…and in recognition of this, international police agency International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) has issues a global alert citing al-Qaeda involvement in recent prison breaks.  According to the INTERPOL alert:

Following a series of prison escapes across nine INTERPOL member countries in the past month alone, including in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan, the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters has issued a global security alert advising increased vigilance.

With suspected Al Qaeda involvement in several of the breakouts which led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals, the INTERPOL alert requests the Organization’s 190 member countries’ assistance in order to determine whether any of these recent events are coordinated or linked…

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