At least one person was killed and about 20 inmates escaped in a prison break in Bukavu in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo, the city’s mayor said.
It was at least the sixth such incident in Congo since May and underscores how lawlessness has spread since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his mandate last December.
The inmates escaped after an unidentified person threw a grenade into the prison, Mayor Philemon Yogolelo told Reuters. A prison visitor was killed and four others wounded when prison guards opened fire to stop the mass escape.
“The guards are counting prisoners to know if the number of fugitives needs to be adjusted,” Yogolelo said. The prison population is ordinarily around 1,000.
About 4,000 inmates escaped Kinshasa’s main high-security prison in May after an attack government blamed on a separatist sect. Another 930 broke out of a prison in the north-eastern city Beni the following month.
Deteriorating security, including an insurrection in central Congo that has killed more than 3,000 people since last August, led some Kabila’s allies to call on him to decree a state of emergency.
In North Kivu province a local self-defence militia overran the town of Mabuo last week, killing a soldier, the administrator for the province’s Lubero region, Joy Bokele, said.
A local monitoring group, the Centre of Study for the Promotion of Peace, Democracy and Human Rights, said militiamen took about 100 villagers hostage. Bokele said he could not confirm that information.