Four killed and 244 escape in DR Congo jailbreak

GOMA , DR Congo (AFP) - Four people were killed and 244 prisoners escaped during a jailbreak at Beni, a town in the Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, officials said on Tuesday.

A military official in the eastern town said that two men in an armed group that attacked the prison at dawn on Monday were killed, along with a soldier and a police officer.

Out of 336 detainees, 244 managed to get away, Daniel Kambale of the Beni prosecutor's office said.

On Sunday, 500 detainees at the Munzenze jail in Goma, the main town in North Kivu province, staged an uprising, the UN-sponsored Radio Okapi reported.

The detainees, mainly soldiers, broke doors and windows to press home demands that their cases be speeded up. They also protested at what they described as corruption among local judicial figures.

Goma's jail was wrecked last November when members of an armed movement, M23, seized the city for 10 days. All the inmates escaped. Several hundred returned of their own volition and others were captured when police returned to the town.

In the capital Kinshasa, a change of prison governor has led to unrest in the central Makala jail, leading to intervention by the army on Tuesday, a source close to the prisoners said.

Residents close to the prison said they heard gunfire, but a police officer at the scene said no shots were fired. Police reinforcements could be seen on the premises.

Officials were not immediately available for comment.

A source inside the prison said the unrest was caused when the new chief of the establishment ordered the transfer to another jail of a death row inmate known as "the old man", the oldest detainee.

Prisoners looked up to him in Makala, which was built for 1,500 detainees but holds 6,078, according to the United Nations.