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Armed men free Guinea’s ex-junta head, officers in audacious prison escape

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Armed men free Guinea’s ex-junta head, officers in audacious prison escape

In the early hours of Saturday, heavily armed men broke into Conakry’s Central House prison, liberating former Guinea’s 2008 military junta leader, Moussa Camara, along with three other high-ranking officers, as confirmed by Justice Minister Charles Wright.

Residents told Reuters that military vehicles and special forces were policing the streets of the Guinean capital after shots were heard in the Kaloum administrative district, where Camara and others were held at the Central House prison.

READ ALSO: Heavy gunfire erupts in Guinea’s capital city, Conakry

Wright said on the radio: “It was around 0500 (0500 GMT) that heavily armed men burst into the Central House of Conakry. They managed to leave with four defendants in the trial of the events of Sept. 28 including Captain Moussa Dadis Camara.

“They will be found wherever they are,” he added, declining to give further details of the investigation.

In response to the escape, Guinea’s borders have been closed to prevent the fleeing of the individuals involved.

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

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

Residents near Kaloum said shots were first heard around 4 a.m. local time after which security was tightened on the streets and the entrance to Kaloum was blocked.

By late morning, the capital appeared calm with many soldiers still visible in some areas, ordering people to stay at home, Mmah Camara, a resident of the Tombo district, said by phone.

Guinea is currently under the governance of military leader Mamady Doumbouya, who seized power in a 2021 coup, amid a wave of military takeovers in West and Central Africa.

Other nations, such as Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Gabon, are similarly under the rule of military officers.

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