A manhunt is underway in Uganda after 200 inmates overpowered their guards and escaped with weapons in a jailbreak that has left four people dead, a prison spokesman said Thursday.
The prisoners seized guns from the armoury at a government prison on Wednesday in Moroto, a remote eastern region 460 kilometres (286 miles) from the capital Kampala, before dashing for the cover of nearby mountains with police, soldiers and helicopters in pursuit.
Prison spokesman Frank Baine said an inmate and a soldier were killed in a shootout as roughly 200 escapees fled toward Mount Moroto, some half-naked after shedding their bright yellow prison-regulation jumpsuits.
Two other inmates were killed Thursday as armed search parties and helicopters chased the escapees.
“There was exchange of fire between the armed inmates and security guards but our forces overpowered them, and we captured seven of them. Total casualties are three inmates dead, and one soldier succumbed to gunshot wounds,” Baine said.
Some prison wardens were wounded in the breakout that Baine described as “one of the rarest” in the history of Uganda’s prison service.
Uganda’s prison commissioner Johnson Byabashaija said search teams and helicopters were scouring the rugged terrain for the escapees.
Some of the prisoners were considered dangerous and jailed for involvement in deadly armed cattle raids across Karamoja, an impoverished region bordering South Sudan and Kenya.
“There is concern that some guns are in the wrong hands, but these will be recaptured. We have enough forces on the ground and helicopters to track them. The public is advised to stay calm,” said Byabashaija.