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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