Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Twenty-five people died after more than 200 prisoners escaped from a prison in Haiti, including a gang leader and the prison's director.
"Twenty-five people died including six prisoners and Divisional Inspector Paul Hector Joseph who was in charge of the prison," Frantz Exantus, Haiti's communication secretary, said during a news conference Friday regarding the escape Thursday from Croix-des-Bouquets Civil Prison near the capital Port-au-Prince. "Among those killed were some ordinary citizens who were killed by the prisoners during their escape."
The prison held more than 1,500 prisoners before the prison break, according to Exantus.
Exantus added later in a tweet that 60 inmates had been captured and another prisoner had been killed.
It was initially reported that more than 400 inmates had escaped.
Among them was gang leader, Arnel Joseph, shot by police hours after escaping while traveling on a motorcycle through a busy street market in the town of L'Estere, a rural village 75 miles north of the capital in the Artibonite Valley, national spokesman Gary Desrosiers told the Miami Herald.
Joseph was shot in exchange with two police officers where they ordered him to stop and he leaned in to fire his 9 mm pistol, according to Desrosiers.
Police were searching for another man accompanying Joseph who was also shot, Desrosiers added.
Joseph was being held on charges of rape, kidnapping, homicide and illegal weapons possession since his 2019 arrest.
The gang leader previously escaped from National Penitentiary where he was serving time for murders of several police, Pierre Esperance, a leading human rights advocate whose organization tracks prisoners and conditions in Haiti's jails, told the Miami-Herald.
Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe told Haiti's daily newspaper, Le Nouvelliste, that armed prisoners escaped in a mutiny using a ladder near the watchtower.
U.N. representatives have reported overcrowding and lack of security in Haiti's prisons.
"The prison break further highlights the problem of prolonged preventative detention and prison overcrowding, which remains a matter of concern that must be urgently addressed by Haitian authorities," U.N. Representative Helen La Lime told the Miami Herald.
"While the prompt response of the Haitian National Police likely prevented the escape of more inmates, I encourage police to speed up investigations on the circumstances surrounding this incident, redouble the efforts to re-apprehend the escapees, and strengthen security around prisons through the country."