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Jail break at Ivory Coast's main prison

By AFP

ABIDJAN (AFP) - About 50 inmates Friday staged a jailbreak from Ivory Coast's main prison but about 20 were apprehended, an informed source said.

Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko deplored the "regrettable" incident, which he blamed on a surveillance breach but added no details of the raid. Locals however reported hearing sustained gunfire in the morning near the prison.

Police set up roadblocks near the high-walled complex on the fringes of the country's commercial capital Abidjan to carry out checks on passing vehicles.

Ivory Coast was plunged into crisis when former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down in November 2010 after losing elections to Alassane Ouattara.

An ensuing standoff that claimed some 3,000 lives ended only in April 2011 when pro-Ouattara ex-rebels, aided by UN troops and French forces stationed in the former colony, arrested Gbagbo.

On March 31 last year, the day Ouattara's forces stormed into Abidjan, all the inmates of the same prison broke out.

The prison, built in 1980 to house 1,500 inmates currently houses about 2,200. It once accommodated about 5,300.

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