22 prisoners escaped in Niger prison attack

In this file photo from Wednesday, March. 21, 2012, soldiers stand behind items recovered from suspected Boko Haram sect members, put on display in Bukavu Barracks in Kano, Nigeria. Unidentified gunmen on Saturday, June 1, 2013, in Niamey, Niger, attacked the central prison in Niger's capital, opening fire on the guards and fighting their way inside the campus, according to a state security agent who says he was 40 meters (yards) from the prison when the incident occurred. (AP Photos/Salisu Rabiu, File)
In this file photo from Wednesday, March. 21, 2012, soldiers stand behind items recovered from suspected Boko Haram sect members, put on display in Bukavu Barracks in Kano, Nigeria. Unidentified gunmen on Saturday, June 1, 2013, in Niamey, Niger, attacked the central prison in Niger's capital, opening fire on the guards and fighting their way inside the campus, according to a state security agent who says he was 40 meters (yards) from the prison when the incident occurred. (AP Photos/Salisu Rabiu, File)

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Niger’s government spokesman said that 22 prisoner escaped this weekend during an attack on the central prison by suspected militants from the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, headquartered in Nigeria, Niger’s larger neighbor to the south.

Minister of Justice Marou Amadou, the government’s spokesman, said on national television late Sunday that among the 22 prisoners was a man named Cheibani Ould Hama, a member of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb who was first arrested in 2009 and is accused of having assassinated four Saudi Arabians and an American.

Amadou said that Nigerien authorities are actively pursuing the escapees and over the weekend they opened fire on an SUV with tinted windows which refused to stop at a checkpoint.

Two prison guards were killed during the escape.

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