Skip to main content

1,200 inmates escape from Benghazi prison with help of neighbors

By Hamdi Alkhshali and Holly Yan, CNN
updated 6:03 AM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Of the 1,200 who escaped, 18 have been captured and a few have surrendered
  • Prime minister: Residents stormed the prison because they didn't want it in their area
  • Authorities couldn't draw their arms on the residents, allowing them to help the prisoners
  • City official: Benghazi's security apparatus "suffers from the lack of manpower and equipment"

(CNN) -- Libyan authorities are trying to round up 1,200 inmates who spilled out of a Benghazi prison.

The prisoners escaped the al-Kwyfah facility in Benghazi early Friday, but only 18 have been captured, city security spokesman Mohammed Hujazi told Libya News TV on Saturday. A few others have surrendered, Hujazi said.

Residents living next to the prison stormed the facility because they didn't want a prison in their neighborhood, said Ali Zaidan, prime minister of Libya's transitional government.

Authorities rushed to the scene, but were instructed "not to draw arms against citizens," Zaidan said.

So the al-Kwyfah residents were able to open the floodgates for the prisoners.

Zaidan said the country's border posts have lists of the escaped prisoners. He also ordered the closure of Libya's border with Egypt, to the east.

"Nobody will be allowed to cross, but we will allow the goods only to enter in the month of Ramadan," Zaidan said.

Hujazi, the city's security spokesman, said the security apparatus in Benghazi "suffers from the lack of manpower and equipment."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It was supposed to be a class trip to a resort island. Instead, the ferry capsized, turning the afternoon into a deadly nightmare.
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
It's hard not to be nervous, standing outside the Ebola isolation wards.
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Ukraine says it's forces have regained control of an airfield from Russian separatists. Nick Paton Walsh reports.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
An "extraordinary" video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Explore each side's case, reconstructed from Pistorius' court affidavit and the prosecution's case during last year's bail hearing.
updated 5:16 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Officials are launching their next option: an underwater vehicle to scan the ocean floor.
updated 1:53 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
How are police preparing for this year's 26.2-mile marathon, which takes place Monday?
updated 1:02 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Katrina Karkazis
Romance is hard, for anyone. For people with intersex traits, love poses unique challenges.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis".
updated 5:26 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
The "kill switch," a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015.
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
updated 2:51 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Sky gazers caught a glimpse of the "blood moon" crossing the Earth's shadow Tuesday in all its splendor.
updated 11:09 AM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
A staff stands next to the propellers of Sun-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 HB-SIB seen in silhouette during its first exit for test on April 14, 2014 in Payerne, a year ahead of their planned round-the-world flight. Solar Impulse 2 is the successor of the original plane of the same name, which last year completed a trip across the United States without using a drop of fuel. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
This solar-powered aircraft will attempt to circle the globe next year.
ADVERTISEMENT