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Benghazi jailbreak: 1,100 inmates escape, 100 recaptured

More than 1,100 escaped from a prison near Benghazi on Saturday while protests against the Muslim Brotherhood raged outside.

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The new Libyan flag flutters near the bronze falcon that once decorated the Bab al-Aziziya compound of slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. (JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 1,100 inmates escaped from a prison near the Libyan city of Benghazi on Saturday while protests against the Muslim Brotherhood raged outside.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the prisoners received outside help in their jailbreak, the Associated Press reported.

Demonstrators had descended on the offices of Islamist-allied parties to protest the assassination of political activist Abdelsalam al-Mismari, according to BBC News.

"There was a riot inside Al-Kuifiya prison, as well as an attack from outside,” a security official told Agence France-Presse. “Special forces called in as reinforcements were given orders not to fire at the prisoners.”

The escapees were mostly common law detainees, he told AFP, “but some of them were detainees in cases linked to the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi.”

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told AFP that "residents of the area carried out the attack because they don't want the prison near their homes."

Also Saturday, Zeidan promised a cabinet reshuffle in response to unrest in Benghazi, said the Voice of America. The protests reportedly spread to Tripoli on Saturday. 

"We are about to make a cabinet reshuffle and decrease the number of ministries to ensure a better performance to face the urgent situation," Zeidan told reporters, according to Reuters

By Sunday, about 100 inmates had been recaptured, Mohammed Sharif, head of security in Benghazi, told Reuters. "The prison is back in operation as of this morning," he said. "Seventy prisoners were brought in initially. Another 30 were caught in the town of al-Marj and seven in Ajdabiyah."

More from GlobalPost: Violent clash in Benghazi reveals growing divisions in Libya

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/130727/benghazi-jailbreak-1000-inmates-escape