Egypt: Thousand of inmates clash with guards, escape jails

Security officials: Several killed, Muslim terrorists among those running free; report: Mubarak fled to Sharm e-Sheikh home; Egypt closes border with Gaza, Palestinian official says.

Egyptian protesters on mortcycle 311 (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Egyptian protesters on mortcycle 311
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
Egyptian security officials said Sunday that thousands of inmates have escaped prisons across Egypt, including one that housed Muslim terrorists northwest of Cairo.
The developments add to the chaos engulfing Egypt as anti-government protests continue. The officials said the prisoners escaped overnight from at least four jails after starting fires and clashing with guards.
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They said that several inmates were killed and wounded during the escape, but gave no specific figures. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to share the information with the media.
Residents have formed neighborhood protection groups, armed with firearms, sticks and clubs to ward off looting gangs roaming Cairo and other cities.
Egyptian security forces were on high alert Sunday after Cairo was engulfed in chaos overnight Saturday. There was rampant looting, and lawlessness spread fast. Residents of affluent neighborhoods were boarding up their homes against gangs of thugs roaming the streets with knives and sticks, and gunfire was heard in some neighborhoods.
The death toll from five days of protests rose sharply since Friday to around 100, according Israel Radio. About 2,000 people have also reportedly been injured.
Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt
Click here for full Jpost coverage of unrest in Egypt
British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has fled Cairo and was hiding in his Sharm e-Sheikh winter home.
According to the report, workers in the resort said they saw Mubarak's entourage arrive on Wednesday, however no officials could confirm the report.
Also on Sunday, a Gaza Palestinian border official said Egypt has closed its border with the Hamas-ruled territory amid the raging turmoil in Egypt.
Ghazi Hamad said he expected the closure to last several days.
The border terminal at Rafah had been rescheduled to open Sunday after a routine, two-day weekend closure. About 400 to 600 Palestinians cross through the terminal daily for medical treatment, study and family visits.
Gaza reports also said three Palestinians who were imprisoned in Egypt had escaped during the upheaval and had returned to the coastal territory through smuggling tunnels.
Hamas officials said group leaders have postponed a trip through Egypt to Syria, where they were to discuss a new proposal to free a long-held Israeli soldier.
Melanie Lidman contributed to this report