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Assassination Figures Flee Congo Jail

October 24, 2006

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) _ A group of prisoners convicted for their involvement in the assassination of a former Congolese president escaped from jail in the capital, prison officials said Tuesday.

Prison director Dido Kitunga said 11 inmates escaped, all former members of President Laurent Kabila’s military guard who were convicted of playing a role in his 2001 assassination. The inmates were discovered missing Tuesday morning, Kitunga said.

Attorney General Tshimanga Mukenda confirmed that a group of prisoners escaped but said he could not provide an exact number. He said an investigation was ongoing and declined to comment further.

Current President Joseph Kabila took power after his father was shot and helped set up a transitional government with the aim of transforming the restive, sprawling Central African nation into a democratic state.

A presidential runoff vote on Sunday will determine whether Joseph Kabila stays in power or hands over rule to challenger Jean-Pierre Bemba.

Laurent Kabila was assassinated in the presidential palace in Kinshasa on January 16, 2001 by one of his bodyguards, who was killed minutes later by security forces.

Two years later, a Kinshasa court sentenced 26 people to death in connection with the killing, though none of the executions is known to have been carried out. Some 64 others were sentenced to jail terms ranging from six months to life.

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