A relative of a prisoner speaks with Lebanese policemen outside the detention centre of Baabda courthouse compound on Saturday. AFP
Nearly 70 inmates broke out of a prison in Lebanon on Saturday after smashing their cell doors and attacking prison guards, police said.
Despite tight security, 69 inmates broke out of a detention facility near the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, a police statement said.
Members of the Lebanese police stand next to a damaged car in Hadath. Reuters
According to a police statement, five of the escaped inmates died when a car they stole while fleeing crashed into a tree during an ensuing police chase.
By early afternoon on Saturday, 15 had been recaptured, and another four had handed themselves back in, leaving 44 on the run.
"A manhunt is...underway to arrest the remaining fugitive prisoners," police said in a statement.
Local authorities called on residents to be on alert, with large numbers of security forces deployed searching the area. Prosecutor Ghada Aoun has ordered an immediate investigation in the breakout.
Security forces sealed off the area around the prison and were conducting a manhunt for the remaining prisoners. An investigation into the incident is underway, according to the police statement.
Relatives of the inmates gathered outside the detention centre, where some were awaiting trial. Some asked about the fate of their relatives, while others handed their sons back into custody, according to a local photographer.
A relative of a prisoner reacts outside the detention center of Baabda courthouse compound. AP
They include Joumana Berjawi, whose 22-year-old son escaped after being held for six months on charges of attempted murder — a charge she denies.
"My son was among the escapees, but I brought him back and handed him over to the state," Berjawi said.
The jailbreak comes as detainees across Lebanon have called on parliament to approve a draft general amnesty law, that would see thousands of them freed from coronavirus-hit prisons.
It wasn't clear whether the escapade succeeded in winning back the heart of the young woman, also 18, who had broken up with him by phone. The man is being investigated for trespassing and unauthorised contact with prisoners.
President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he himself was also "affected" by the tough rules being imposed for people to stay at home and observe social distancing to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.
A pair of prison guards were held hostage for at least nine hours by two dangerous inmates at a Swedish jail, demanding pizza as ransom. The guards were later released when the pizza was delivered, Stina Lills, a spokeswoman for the prison administration.
The incident, recorded by the CCTV cameras, took place at a police station in Tamarind, in which one of the two suspects takes a piece of wire and a hidden paper clip, and uses it skillfully to pick up the key that locks the prison door.
The UAE leaders also dispatched similar congratulatory messages to Prince Mohammed bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan's government is proposing that the international community develop a road map that leads to diplomatic recognition of the Taliban - with incentives if they fulfill its requirements — and then sit down face to face and talk it out with the militia's leaders.
China and Russia have described last month's Taliban victory as a defeat for the United States and moved to work with the insurgents, but no country has moved to recognise a government that includes international pariahs.