Eight People Dead After Hundreds of Inmates Try to Escape Prison in Haiti

Recaptured inmates are led by police outside the Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison after an attempted breakout, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. At least seven people were killed on Thursday after several inmates tried to escape from the prison, eyewitnesses told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery). THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A prison director was among at least eight people killed on Thursday after several inmates tried to escape from a prison in Haiti’s capital, a police officer and witnesses said.

The incident occurred in northeast Port-au-Prince at the Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison, which was built by Canada in 2012 and is known for a 2014 breakout in which more than 300 inmates escaped.

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Residents in the area who declined to be identified out of concern for their safety told The Associated Press that they observed a group of heavily armed men start shooting at prison guards before the inmates began to flee.

Gunshots could still be heard from within the prison several hours after the shooting began.

The police officer who confirmed the killing of the prison director to the AP, and declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said authorities were preparing to raid the prison and described the inmates as armed and dangerous.

At the time of the 2014 breakout, the prison held 899 inmates, some 130 over its capacity.

During Thursday’s incident, one escapee, 37-year-old Jhon Hippolyte, was shot in the back. He told the AP that he was serving a sentence for murder and was in the infirmary when he noticed everybody running and decided to join them.

AP journalists saw the bodies of at least seven men along streets near the prison. They had been shot. Their identities were not immediately available, and it wasn’t clear if they were inmates or who had killed them.

Video captured by residents shows one police officer leading a group of men tied together with a rope. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were inmates.

Authorities could not be immediately reached for comment.

SOURCE: The Associated Press, Evens Sanon

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