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4 Nov, 2023 14:35

Ex-African leader on the loose after prison break – authorities

Former Guinean President Moussa Camara is said to have been rescued by his allies amid reports of heavy gunfire in the capital
Ex-African leader on the loose after prison break – authorities

A group of unidentified armed men has stormed the prison in Guinea’s capital, freeing the former president and coup leader, Moussa Dadis Camara, the local authorities have said, with media and witnesses reporting heavy gunfire in the area.

The news was confirmed on Saturday by Justice Minister Charles Alphonse Wright, who told local radio station Fim FM that in addition to Camara, who led the West African nation and former French colony from 2008 to 2010, other escapees included Claude Pivi and Blaise Goumou. 

The two men, along with Camara, were arrested in connection with a massacre at a stadium in Conakry more than a decade ago.

“We will find them. And those responsible will be held accountable,” the minister said, adding that the fourth fugitive, Moussa Tiegboro Camara, had already been recaptured, and that the authorities had closed the country’s borders.

Several unverified videos on social media captured the sound of heavy automatic gunfire in the Guinean capital; one of them shows a heavy presence of security forces in the city. According to several witnesses interviewed by AFP, the center of Conakry has been sealed off.

Jeune Afrique reported that the commando force that stormed the prison consisted of four pick-up trucks and was led by the son of Claude Pivi, who once served in Guinea’s special forces.

Camara seized power in a coup in late 2008 after the death of then-President Lansana Conte. He, along with several other former Guinean officials, was tried for the massacre at a stadium in Conakry on September 28, 2009, in which more than 150 people were killed. There were also mass atrocities against civilians allegedly committed by Camara’s forces. Following the tragedy, Camara was seriously injured in an assassination attempt and went into exile in neighboring Burkina Faso.  

He returned to Guinea in 2021, following a coup d’etat that year. However, Camara was imprisoned last September; he and his co-defendants are accused of murder, sexual violence, torture, abduction, and kidnapping, and face life in prison.