PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - At least 172 inmates escaped a Haitian prison near the capital Port-au-Prince during an armed mutiny, killing one guard and many escaping with police weapons, local media reported.
Le Nouvelliste newspaper quoted Arcahaie prison manager Heurtelou Paul Colson on Saturday (Oct 22) as saying a guard was shot dead and two other police officers were wounded.
One prisoner climbed over a wall and fell to his death, while two other detainees were wounded and in hospital.
The prison manager told Le Nouvelliste that Yvener Carelus, who was serving time for kidnapping, was the mastermind behind the escape. He was arrested.
"He planned the escape from the inside with a few accomplices," Justice Minister Camille Edouard Junior told the newspaper, adding that security was being boosted at prisons across the country.
Human rights activist Pierre Esperance noted that the prison had housed "a lot of big-name prisoners, major criminals sentenced for theft, rape, kidnapping, drug trafficking, etc".
The authorities have launched a manhunt for the escapees, with police checking all roads in the Arcadins coastal zone near Arcahaie prison.
"The government strongly condemns the incidents that took place at Arcahaie prison, targeted in a mutiny by heavily armed individuals," the office of interim Prime Minister Enex Jean-Charles, who also serves as defense minister, said in a statement.
"Special police units are on site to secure the area and prevent those responsible from causing further harm."
The foreign, justice and interior ministers, along with top national police officials, visited the prison after the violence.
Mr Jean-Charles asked the justice minister to "take all necessary measures to remedy this unacceptable situation", his office said.