Over 1,000 prisoners escaped from Kangbayi Central Prison in Beni, North Kivu, on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 following an attack on the facility by combatants of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
According to the Mayor of Beni, Modeste Bakwanamaha, the rebels launched two simultaneous attacks – one against the prison and the other against an army position meant to ensure the security of the prison.
“There has been a simultaneous attack at the Kangbayi prison and at the hill which overlooks the prison where elements of the military assuring surveillance of the prison are positioned. It is due to this simultaneous attack that you are hearing gunshots.
“Unfortunately, these assailants came in large numbers with electrical materials to break the doors of the prison and they succeeded in doing so, freeing all the prisoners. We only have 110 voluntary detainees left in the prison now as I speak, ” Bakwanamaha of Beni said.
Civil society sources in Beni said that up until Monday October 19, 2020, the Kangbayi Central Prison housed almost 1,500 detainees among whom were combatants of ADF and Mai-mai militiamen.
The attacks come at a time when several civil society groups and local authorities are calling for the transfer of dangerous prisoners in Kangbayi to other locations far away from the operation zone of the rebels. The Angenga high-security prison in Equator Province was proposed as an appropriate detention facility to house such detainees.
Tuesday’s attack was not the first time the Beni prison has been targeted leading to the escape of several prisoners.
On June 11, 2017, armed men suspected by the local authorities to be combatants of the Mai-mai rebel movement in coalition with the ADF rebels attacked the prison, leading to the escape of 930 prisoners and the death of eleven others.
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