Ghana investigates deadly jailbreak attempt

ACCRA – Prison authorities in Ghana are trying to identify the masterminds of a failed jailbreak in Kumasi, the country's second biggest city, which left one inmate dead and several others injured.

"We will search for the people who started the confusion and transfer them to a bigger facility to ensure they don't become a bad influence on other people," Vitalis Aryeh, a spokesman for the Ghana Prisons Service, told The Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

"It is part of our procedure to transfer prisoners if we think they are not fit to be where they are," he explained.

One inmate was killed overnight during clashes between inmates and security officers at the Kumasi Central Prison.

Prison authorities said inmates had tried to take advantage of a fire that broke out to make an escape.

"A fire started in one of the [cell] blocks and officers on duty decided to evacuate the inmates in that block and put out the fire," Aryeh said.

"When inmates came out of the building, they decided to force open the other cells for their colleagues to come out and join them," he added.

The official could not say whether inmates had started the fire on purpose or whether it had been caused by lightning.

"The inmates, numbering about 3,000, poured into the yard and started vandalizing and throwing objects, forcing officers to evacuate and push back into the inner parameter," Aryeh said, adding that the prison riot had lasted close to five hours.

"Police were forced to use teargas to contain the situation," the official noted.

Some police officers were injured in the commotion that ensued after the fire broke out.

"With my 22 years of experience, I have not seen a thing like this before," Aryeh told AA. "This is the first [such incident] and the biggest."

Samuel Sarpong, the regional minister for Ashanti, the region in which the prison is located, admitted that the facility was overcrowded.

"The place is a little bit congested; the inmates have actually been complaining. I'm sure these are some of the reasons that informed them to [attempt the] jailbreak," he told a Thursday press conference.

He said the director-general of the nation's prisons would visit the facility later on Thursday "to ensure that some of the prisoners are evacuated to other regions, just to decongest the prison."

Officials say that Kumasi Central Prison, which was built to house only 416 inmates, currently accommodates a total of 2,113 prisoners.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency