Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 16:02 UK

Militant escapes Lebanon prison

Roumieh prison
Roumieh prison is situated in an eastern suburb of Beirut

An Islamist militant has escaped from a high-security prison in Lebanon after members of his group formed a human ladder, allowing him to scale a wall.

Taha Hajj Suleiman escaped from Roumieh prison, in eastern Beirut, in the early hours of Tuesday.

Prison guards were able to stop seven other members of his al-Qaeda-inspired group, Fatah al-Islam, from fleeing.

Suleiman was being held for his alleged involvement in a 15-week battle with the Lebanese army.

Police described Suleiman as "dangerous" and said they had launched a search using helicopters and police dogs to try and find him.

Suleiman, a Syrian national, was being held on charges of terrorism and bombing.

The Fatah al-Islam group became notorious in 2007 when it seized control of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

The group fought the Lebanese army in a battle that lasted almost three months and claimed the lives of 440 people, including 170 soldiers and 47 Palestinian civilians.

Some members of the group, believed to include militants from several Arab countries, were blamed for later bombings and attacks on the army.

Roumieh prison, built four decades ago, currently has 3,000 inmates, although it was originally intended to house one-third that number.

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