Prison break in Libya’s capital sees hundreds of inmates hitting the road

Al-Jawiyyah prison in Misrata, northwest Libya. © 2014 Christopher Occhicone

About 400 inmates escaped Sunday from Ain Zara prison amid the continued fighting in the Libyan capital Tripoli between armed groups for power and authority. 

The inmates poured out of the prison’s gate, with guards fearing for their own safety as the four-hundred-strong crowd stormed the entrance.

“The detainees were able to force open the doors and leave,” police said in a statement on Sunday.

The escape was facilitated by the turmoil that has gripped the Libyan capital for a week now.

A state of emergency has been declared in Tripoli by Libya’s UN-backed Presidential Council as fighting among rival factions intensifies around the capital.

According to the Health Ministry in Tripoli, fighting has caused 39 deaths and 96 injuries in the past few days.

The Presidential Council in a statement Sunday urged rival militias to stop the fighting and abide a UN-brokered ceasefire.

The United States, France, Italy and Britain on Saturday condemned the escalation of violence in and around Tripoli, warning that armed groups which undermined Libyan stability would be made accountable.

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