BEIRUT: Five prisoners of different nationalities managed to escape the maximum-security Roumieh prison complex, northeast of Beirut Saturday.
The five inmates – one Lebanese, two Syrians, one Kuwaiti and one Sudanese- had managed to escape after they climbed down from their cells using bed sheets, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said, adding that they then blended in with a group of families who were at the prison visiting loved ones and managed to exit with the group unnoticed.
The incident at the jail had been due to negligence on the part of security personnel, Charbel said, adding that relevant staff members had been referred to the Military Tribunal.
According to statements by the Internal Security forces, the five prisoners are Midhat Hasan Khalil, a Sudanese born 1963; Abdullah Saad el-Dine al-Shukri, a Syrian born 1984; Abdel-Aziz Ahmad al-Masri, a Syrian born 1985; Mohammad Abdel-Nasser Abdel-Dusri, a Kuwaiti born 1973 and Abdel-Nasser Said Singer, a Lebanese born 1980.
The statement added that a sixth prisoner, Walid Issam Lababidi, a Lebanese born 1980, was caught while trying to escape with the other five inmates.
The prison escape, which took place between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., was followed by an intensive search operation, a security source told The Daily Star. A helicopter had been dispatched to aid in the search and Lebanese Army checkpoints set up in the area.
The ISF said in its statement that it was working in coordination with the Lebanese Army to pursue the five escapees and would continue its search until the men were detained and returned to the prison.
“An investigation by relevant agencies is ongoing in order to take the necessary measures to apprehend the inmates,” the statement added.
In a statement, the ISF said it had issued a circular with mug shots of the five escapees and urges the public to contact the emergency hotline 112 or to refer to the nearest military post if they spot one or more of the wanted men, noting that "the caller will remain anonymous in accordance with the law."
Roumieh, Lebanon’s largest prison facility currently holds around 3,700 inmates, although it was designed for about a quarter that number.