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30 inmates escape from Lebanon jail

BEIRUT: More than 30 people fled a Lebanon detention centre at dawn on Sunday, security forces said, after sawing their way through a window, according to a judicial official. “At dawn … 31 detainees managed to escape” from a detention centre in the Adlieh neighborhood of the capital Beirut, the Internal Security Forces said in a statement on Sunday.

“Immediate orders were given to arrest them and investigations are underway.” The detainees broke past a prison window using a saw smuggled into the facility, said a judicial official close to an investigation into the incident. “The escapees include Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, among other foreigners,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity. A security source confirmed the escape method, saying the prisoners were likely aided by someone on the outside.

On Sunday morning, an AFP correspondent saw security forces and army personnel deployed in the Beirut neighborhood housing the jail. The Adlieh detention centre was formerly controlled by Lebanon’s General Security agency but is now managed by the country’s prison authority. It was notorious for abuses committed against detained Syrian refugees and foreign migrant domestic workers, according to rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.

The prison break came as Lebanon grapples with an unprecedented economic crisis that has seen the value of the Lebanese pound lose more than 90 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market. Inflation has skyrocketed and public sector salaries have plummeted to record lows, forcing soldiers and other members of security forces to quit en masse to try to eke out an alternative living. The crisis has also further degraded Lebanon’s already-dismal jails, with poor conditions and lack of medical care regularly sparking prison riots and unrest. – AFP

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