Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Over 70 escape in second Congo prison break this week

Over 70 escape in second Congo prison break this week

"It happened on Wednesday during the attack on the prison by armed men".

Supporters of a jailed Christian sect leader attacked the prison holding him in Democratic Republic of Congo's capital, freeing him and about 50 other inmates early on Wednesday, the government said.

Nsemi, head of the Bundu dia Kongo movement and a self-proclaimed prophet, was imprisoned following his arrest in March, which saw his supporters clashing with the police. There were unconfirmed reports that several prisoners also died.

"Followers of the Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK) attacked Makala prison at dawn and broke out around 50 prisoners including their guru, Ne Muanda Nsemi", government spokesman Lambert Mende said, indicating that police had given chase.

BDK seeks to restore a pre-colonial kingdom in the western part of the country, as well as parts of Angola and Gabon. Official sources put the number of prisoners at 8,000. He contests Kabila's legitimacy saying that the Congolese president is a Rwandan national.

It is estimated that around 4,000 or half of the facility's population escaped, said a prisoner who witnessed the incident. "When the guard went to inform the police, he left the door open, which allowed them to escape".

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However, an escaped prisoner told AFP news agency around 100 inmates fled.

A city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that the women's section was empty.

Nsemi's escape raises the prospect of further violence in the Congo after Kabila postponed elections in November, sparking widespread protests.

Under the constitution, Kabila should have ended his mandate on December 20 but he managed to secure a controversial court ruling allowing him to remain in office until elections are held "at the end of 2017".

Elections are now scheduled to take place at the end of this year.

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