Sunday, July 28, 2013

More Than 1000 Inmates Freed From Benghazi Prison in Massive Jailbreak As Anti-Muslim Bortherhood Protests

Another day, another jailbreak in a troubled Middle Eastern nation racked by widespread conflict and unrest in recent years.
More than 1,000 prisoners have escaped from a Libyan jail this afternoon, it has emerged.

Libyan security officials said the mass jailbreak occurred at Koyfiya prison, near the eastern city of Benghazi.

The jailbreak happened as protesters stormed the offices of Islamist-allied parties in Libya's main cities.

Protesters had massed across the country angry over the killing of an activist critical of the country's Muslim Brotherhood group.

It is not known if the jailbreak was part of the protests or if inmates received outside help.

A security official from the prison said most of the inmates were being held on serious charges.

There was confusion initially about how many prisoners broke out, with numbers of escapees ranging as high as 1,200.

Benghazi's security situation is among the most precarious in post-revolution Libya.

Although Libyan officials say about 100 escaped inmates were recaptured after the jailbreak, there was no immediate word on the nature of the charges the prisoners were convicted of or awaiting trial for or if any of the inmates were affiliated with Al Qaeda or Ansar Al-Shari'a.

The jailbreak coincides with protests in Benghazi that saw demonstrators attack the offices of the Muslim Brotherhood. Prior to the jailbreak and demonstrations, unidentified assailants shot and killed activist Abdelsalam al-Mismari as he left a mosque after Friday prayers. Al-Mismari was a key figure in the initial 2011 uprising that eventually led to Western intervention and the toppling of the Ghdaffi regime. Al-Mismari was also the leader of the Feb 17th Martyrs Brigade and a vocal critic of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Likely emboldened by the ongoing protests and overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the demonstrators broke down the doors to the Benghazi offices of the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction party, chanting that the Muslim Brotherhood's days in Benghazi were numbered before setting fires and throwing documents from office windows.

Benghazi has been considered off limits to foreigners ever since the deadly attack on the US Consulate on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Using mortars and RPGs in a well-coordinated assault, the attackers killed American ambassador Chris Stevens and three others while setting fire to buildings on the diplomatic compound. The Obama Administration blamed the attack on a 'spontaneous' protest over a You Tube video for several weeks before backtracking about the nature of the murder of Ambassador Stevens, Information Management Officer Sean Smith and ex SEALS Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Meanwhile, the assailants in the September 11, 2012 consulate attacks are still at large.

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