By Enyichukwu Enemanna
At least two police officers and a civilian have been killed during an attack at a prison facility in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday in which about 800 inmates were freed.
Local authorities confirmed the development, blaming it on Islamist militant group.
Spokesperson for the army’s operations against armed groups in Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, Antony Mwalushayi, said the attackers had invaded the prison located in the city of Butembo.
“The enemy was heavily armed with a headcount of at least 80 individuals. They managed to break into the prison and free all the prisoners,” Mwalushayi told reporters, without saying how many prisoners had escaped.
Prison director Brunelle N’kasa later confirmed that only 58 of 874 inmates remained.
Mwalushayi said he was confident the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) was behind the attack.
The Ugandan armed group, which has been active in eastern Congo since the 1990s, has links to Islamic State and is responsible for repeated massacres.
Butembo Mayor Mowa Baeki-Telly appealed to residents to help re-arrest the fleeing prisoners.
“If there is an escapee, he should not be burned – do not kill him … bring him here to us so that we can put him back in prison,” he told reporters.
Attacks are common from Congo’s overcrowded and poorly secured prisons. In 2020, the ADF was linked to a prison break that freed more than 1,300 inmates in the eastern city of Beni.
This comes a little above one month when bandits invaded Kuje prison in Abuja, Nigeria, freeing their detained colleagues standing trial for terrorism related charges.