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AFP
November 22, 2020

Lebanese police hunt dozens after mass jailbreak

World

AFP
November 22, 2020

BEIRUT: Police in Lebanon on Saturday hunted for 44 fugitive prisoners who escaped from a detention centre on the outskirts of Beirut, calling on local residents to be on alert.

Despite tight security, 69 people broke out of a detention facility near the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, a police statement said.

Five were killed in a car accident, when they lost control of the stolen vehicle as they rushed away and crashed into a tree. One other person was taken to hospital. By early afternoon on Saturday, 15 had been recaptured, and another four had handed themselves back in, leaving 44 on the run.

"A manhunt is...underway to arrest the remaining fugitive prisoners," police said in a statement.

Local authorities called on residents to be on alert, with large numbers of security forces deployed searching the area.

Prosecutor Ghada Aoun has ordered an immediate investigation in the breakout.

Speaking to AFP, she said she did not rule out the possibility of "collusion between the detainees and security guards tasked with protecting their cells."

Judge Fadi Akiki, a government representative at the military court, held a meeting with security officials after inspecting the detention facility and site of the car crash.

Relatives of the inmates gathered outside the detention centre, located in Baabda’s Justice Palace, where some were awaiting trial.