Nearly 1 000 inmates escaped from a high security prison in Democratic Republic of Congo’s top mining town Lubumbashi after gunmen attacked it to free a jailed rebel leader, the local government said.
One policeman and a visitor were killed in the attack, during which former rebel commander Gedeon Mutanga and the rest of the prisoners escaped, according to the provincial minister of interior, Jean Marie Dikanga Kazadi.
“When the assailants came they started by firing on the guards and the police,” he told Reuters by telephone from Lubumbashi. He said 967 people had escaped from the Kasapa prison, but that 152 of them had since been recaptured, Reuters reports.
“We’re going to put everything in place not only to recapture those that we can recapture but also secure all political, economic and social structures,” he said.
Mutanga is the former leader of a rebel group in Katanga — Congo’s largest mining province — and was convicted of crimes against humanity in 2009.
Lubumbashi is the capital of Katanga. Many international companies operate in Katanga which has vast copper reserves.
The province, which produced about 500,000 tonnes of copper last year, is the most stable in eastern Congo, an area infested by militants.