170 inmates break out of Haitian prison, kill guard

ARCAHAIE , Haiti, More than 170 inmates escaped a Haitian prison north of Port-au-Prince Saturday, leaving a guard dead and several injured.

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The escapees stole five rifles and also left a fellow inmate dead in an exchange of gunfire, BBC reported.

United Nations peacekeeping forces are assisting Haitian authorities in a major manhunt for the prisoners.

The violent escape prompted the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince to issue a warning to all U.S. citizens to stay clear of the area.

“Please keep in mind that demonstrations in Haiti, even peaceful ones, can escalate quickly and even turn violent, so the embassy urges all U.S. citizens to remain vigilant, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid this area as much as possible. Should you find yourself among or near protesters, depart the area immediately,” the embassy warning stated.

“Three prisoners were wounded, including one who died as a consequence of his wounds,” said Justice Minister Camille Edouard Jr.

The Haitian government put out a tweet condemning what it described as a prison mutiny.

Eleven of the escapees have been detained, but because Haitian inmates don’t wear prison uniforms, it makes it easier for them to blend in with the general population.

Many inmates in Haiti spend months, even years in pretrial detention, living in overcrowded conditions, including in the Arcahaie prison where the escape took place.

By Yvette C. Hammett