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Monday, October 18,2010

Three inmates killed in botched prison escape in Haiti

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HaitiUnited Nations troops and Haitian National Police officers are investigating a botched jail break on Sunday that led to three inmate deaths and the brief detention of seven people including three U.N. police advisers, authorities said.

Haitian police say a trio of prisoners overpowered several guards and stripped them of their weapons — three shotguns and an M-14 rifle. The inmates were later killed.

"They tried to get out and were killed," said Frantz Lerebours, a police spokesman.

Lerebours said no prisoners escaped.

The commotion in the prison coincided with the brief detention of seven people with the U.N. police mission — now under investigation.

U.N. police spokesman Andre Leclerc said three were U.N. police advisers, two were corrections officers, and two were foreigners visiting as guests of U.N. police.

Details of what transpired were murky.

"Are they hostages or involuntary confined people? We still don't know what would be the best term," Leclerc said.

Gunfire broke out and the seven escaped the prison without harm, Leclerc said. They were later treated for "minor injuries, caused by pushing." The U.N. police received calls for assistance around 10 or 10:30 a.m.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, dozens of UN troops and riot police officers blocked off the street leading to the prison's entrance as curious bystanders gathered around.

Lionel St. Louis recounted standing in line at the prison at 10 a.m. to deliver food to his three cousins when the shooting began. He dropped the food and dashed outside and found cover in a tight corridor across the street.

"Everybody started running," said St. Louis, 36.

St. Louis said the shooting remained steady for two hours.


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