30/04/2011 - TUNIS -- More than 800 prisoners managed to escape from two prisons in west-central Tunisia on Friday, state-run media reported on Saturday, in what is the largest prison break in the country in recent years.
The official Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP) reported that a total of 522 prisoners were able to escape from a prison in Kasserine on Friday morning after two separate fires broke out in two cells. Kasserine is the capital of Kasserine Governorate and is situated below the Jebel ech Chambi mountain in west-central Tunisia.
It was not immediately known what caused the two fires, which were both quickly extinguished but not before more than 500 prisoners managed to escape the facility. Shops and other businesses in the region closed their shops on Friday in fear of violence, TAP reported.
Meanwhile, a total of 298 prisoners escaped from a prison in the city of Gafsa, the capital of Gafsa Governorate, after a fire broke out in a cell. The cause was not immediately known, TAP reported, and it was not known if it was related to the prison break in Kasserine.
As of Saturday, TAP reported that security forces have been able to re-capture a total of 125 prisoners from both prisons. Forces have been deployed to the entrances and exit points of both cities in an attempt to capture more escapees.
The fires at the two prisons in Kasserine and Gafsa caused no casualties.