At least nine killed in Guinea armed jail break – ministry

CONAKRY (Reuters) – At least nine people died in gun battles after armed men stormed into a jail in Guinea’s capital over the weekend and briefly freed former military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara and other detained army officers, the justice ministry said on Monday.

Authorities found the bodies of three attackers, four members of the security forces and two other people, the ministry said in its first official report on Saturday morning’s prison break.

Six others were in hospital with gunshot wounds, it added.

Troops searched houses and cars after the break-in, found the former president Camara and two of the escaped officers and put them back in Conakry’s Central House prison the same day, officials said.

Another escaped army officer was still on the loose, they added.

The clashes underlined the fragile security situation in the West African country, which is ruled by a military junta that seized power in 2021. There have been eight such takeovers in West and Central Africa in the last three years.

The ministry statement, signed by Prosecutor General Yamoussa Conte, said Camara and the other escapees were under investigation for involuntary manslaughter and other violations.

Camara’s lawyer earlier dismissed suggestions the former leader had orchestrated the break-in and said he had been kidnapped from the facility by force.

Camara led a 2008 military coup and ruled Guinea for almost a year until he was wounded in a December 2009 assassination attempt.

He has been on trial since last year, accused alongside others of orchestrating a stadium massacre and mass rape by Guinean security forces in which 150 people were killed during a pro-democracy rally on Sept. 28, 2009.

He has denied responsibility, blaming the atrocities on errant soldiers.

(This story has been corrected throughout to clarify that the other escaped inmates were army officers, not officials)

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Toby Chopra and Andrew Heavens)