More than 900 prisoners have escaped from a jail in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Beni city after suspected Islamist rebels attacked the facility, officials have said.
The Allied Defence Forces (ADF) was thought to have launched the assault to free its members, the mayor said.
Only 100 inmates remained in Kangbayi prison, the mayor said. The ADF was formed in 1996 in neighbouring Uganda to fight alleged discrimination against Muslims.
It relocated to eastern DR Congo after being driven out by the Ugandan military from its bases in the Rwenzori Mountains. The group has not yet commented on whether it was behind the attack.
Beni’s mayor Modeste Bakwanamaha told newsmen that the attackers came in large numbers and managed to break the jail’s door using electric equipment.
UN-backed Radio Okapi reported that out of the 1,455 detainees, only 122 remained in jail. Police managed to capture 14 escapees, it added.
Two inmates were shot dead during the raid, which started at around 04:30 local time, police said on Twitter. In 2017, hundreds of prisoners escaped from the same jail, which holds a variety of militiamen – including ADF fighters.
The ADF is one of many rebel groups operating in eastern DR Congo, a mineral-rich area where government and UN forces have long battled to bring stability. The group has been accused of widespread atrocities in the region.