Beirut: Militants from a radical Islamist
group which fought deadly battles with the Lebanese army in
2007 escaped from the country`s main jail on Saturday, a security
official told a news agency.
"Five inmates have escaped from Ward D in the Roumieh
prison," northeast of Beirut, the official said on condition
of anonymity. "We believe at least three of them belong to
Lebanon`s Internal Security Forces said a sixth inmate
attempting to flee had been caught inside prison grounds and
was under interrogation.
The five, two Syrians, a Lebanese, a Kuwaiti and two
Mauritanians, had sawed through a fence inside the prison,
used sheets to rappel from their ward and then mingled with
visitors in civilian clothing, it said in a statement.
The security official said the hunt for the inmates was
ongoing, while television footage showed troops had surrounded
the notorious prison as a helicopter flew overhead.
Roumieh, the oldest and largest of Lebanon`s overcrowded
prisons, has witnessed sporadic prison breaks in recent years
and escalating riots over the past months as inmates living in
dire conditions demand fairer treatment.
In the summer of 2007, al Qaeda-inspired Fatah Al-Islam
led an uprising against the army in the Palestinian refugee
camp of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon.
The fighting killed some 400 people, including 168
soldiers, and deadly clashes also broke out in the nearby port
city of Tripoli but some Islamist leaders escaped despite a
15-week army siege of the camp.
The militant group is also accused of being behind twin
bus bombings in a Christian suburb northeast of Beirut that
left three dead and close to 20 wounded in 2007.