Madagascar: Tension after mass jail breakout

Prison officials in Madagascar were left red-faced on Tuesday after a mass escape which left over 30 inmates on the run on the Indian Ocean island nation.

The mass breakout occurred three weeks into a strike by prison workers, with media reports suggesting the escapees may have received help from guards, although officials said they do not yet know what happened.

"There was a mass breakout about 01:30 Monday from the prison in Tulear," in southwest Madagascar, justice ministry spokesperson Jeremie Napou told AFP.

"Thirty-seven inmates escaped, and six have already been re-arrested," he said, giving no further details about the embarrassing mass getaway.

"There are so many versions [of the story] but we prefer to await the results of our own investigations before saying what is really behind this mass escape," said Napou.

Prison staff have been on general strike across the island nation since April 11, demanding notably more vehicles to transport inmates to court. They complain that they sometimes have to take public transport to carry out their duties.

The justice ministry insisted that Tulear prison is well guarded and has adequate security resources.

The prison's inmates include the two murderers of Johanna Delahaye and Gerald Fontaine, a French couple brutally mutilated in 2012 on a beach in the region.

The two men were condemned to hard labour in perpetuity in October 2015. It was not immediately know if they were among the escapees.
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