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South Africa: Bomb 'kills three' in Johannesburg prison escape attempt

South African police say the explosion happened in a van transporting prisoners from a court to the Johannesburg Central Prison.

Johannesburg prison bomb 20121022Enlarge
An police van leaves Johannesburg's central prison on October 22, 2012 after an explosion near the prison. Three inmates were killed and 14 wounded in the explosion that took place as their vehicle was travelling to Johannesburg Central prison today, local media reported. (ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A bomb blast in a Johannesburg prison van has killed at least three people and critically injured four others, in what police described as an elaborate escape attempt.

The blast happened Monday in a van transporting 36 prisoners from a court to the Johannesburg Central Prison in the city's south.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation said "initial indications are that plans to detonate an explosive device to facilitate an escape went horribly wrong."

Police spokesman Neville Malila told Eyewitness News that two of the prisoners managed to escape, but were re-arrested. The injured prisoners were rushed to various hospitals under heavy police guard.

Reuters reported that at least five prisoners had been killed in the explosion.

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The exact type of explosive device used in escape attempt is still unclear. There are reports that a door of the van was blown off.

South African prisons have faced criticism in the past for the escapes of high-profile inmates.

Correctional services minister Sibusiso Ndebele said last month that the number of escapes from South African prisons has declined in the past decade.

The most escapes in the past decade were 281 in 2002-2003, the South African Press Association reported.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/south-africa/121022/south-africa-johannesburg-prison-explosion