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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 14:51 GMT
Mass convict break-out in Congo
Brazzaville prison
The inmates had been involved in organised crime in the city
Almost 200 inmates have escaped from a prison in the Republic of Congo's capital Brazzaville after a riot broke out, reportedly over poor food.

A guard said the prisoners first forced open the doors of their cells, then broke through the main door, despite warning shots by guards.

One of the prisoners was shot and killed as he tried to scale a wall during the break-out on Tuesday.

The prison's several hundred inmates receive only one daily meal.

Congolese Justice Minister Gabriel Entcha Ebia told reporters at the prison that the inmates' escape would pose a security problem for the city, as many were involved in organised crime.

Map showing Congo and its capital Brazzaville
When Brazzaville Central Prison was built in the 1960s it was designed to hold a maximum of 100 inmates. It often holds four times that number.

In April 2006, squalid conditions at the prison led inmates to take the prison director hostage for several hours to call attention to their plight.

He was released when the government provided food for the prisoners.

It was only a stopgap measure, however, as the rations lasted only a few days.

The country is saddled with massive financial problems in virtually every sector, and the monthly budget for prisoners' food nationwide is only 12m francs CFA (US $23,000).

Country profile: Republic of Congo
19 Dec 06 |  Country profiles

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