Beni – Fighters from a notorious rebel group freed some 800 inmates from a prison in eastern DR Congo, in a jailbreak in which two policemen were killed, the army and other sources said on Wednesday.
Armed men “attacked Kakwangura central prison in the town of Butembo” overnight on Tuesday, said Captain Antony Mualushayi, the military spokesman in the Beni region.
“The initial toll, which is still provisional, is two policemen killed,” he said, adding that an assailant had also died.
Mualushayi later told AFP that the army said the Islamic State group claimed its regional affiliate – the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – had staged the attack.
ADF fighters “freed 12 ADF women as well as one of their leaders who was in prison,” the captain said.
A respected US-based monitor, the Kivu Security Tracker also said on Twitter that the ADF had staged the jailbreak.
A source in the prison service, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that out of the 872 inmates, all but 49 had escaped.
At least two police died and all the inmates escaped, the KST added.
Mathe Saanane, the head of a network of civil-society groups in Butembo, said that locals had “overpowered three ADF attackers and stoned them (to death) on the spot”.
The ADF has been blamed for thousands of deaths in eastern DRC, especially in the Beni area, and for attacks in neighbouring Uganda.
The east of the DRC, a vast country the size of continental western Europe, has been unstable for decades.
Scores of armed groups roam the region, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared at the end of the last century.