Moussa Dadis Camara was recaptured and returned to prison

Moussa Dadis Camara

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 Gunmen stormed the main prison in Guinea’s capital early Saturday and freed former dictator Moussa “Dadis” Camara and several others, authorities said. A lawyer for the ex-strongman, though, later said he had been kidnapped.

In a statement, Prosecutor Yamoussa Conte said he has ordered authorities to investigate charges of escaping jail and weapons possession against Camara and three other individuals.

However, an attorney for Camara said late Saturday afternoon that her client was back at the central jail, where he was being questioned.

“My client has not escaped; he has been abducted,” Jacomey Haba told The Associated Press.

Among the others who escaped were Claude Pivi and Blaise Goumou, who along with Camara had been detained on charges in connection with a 2009 stadium massacre that left 157 people dead.

“We will find them. And those responsible will be held accountable,” Justice Minister Charles Alphonse Wright, told local Radio Fim FM several hours after heavy gunfire erupted in the Kaloum district of the capital, Conakry.

A fourth prisoner, Moussa Thiegboro Camara, already has been recaptured, Wright added.

Camara came to power in a 2008 coup d’etat following the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte. Camara had lived for years in exile after surviving an assassination attempt by one of his bodyguards before returning home to Guinea in late 2021.

More than a dozen suspects were charged in connection with the 2009 massacre, when Guinean security forces fired upon peaceful demonstrators protesting against his intention to run for president after seizing power.

For years, Guinea’s government had sought to prevent Camara’s homecoming from exile in Burkina Faso, fearing it could stoke political instability. However, another coup in September 2021 put a military junta in power in Guinea that was more amenable to Camara’s return.

Camara testified in court last year that he was sleeping during the early hours of the attack, then awoken at 11 a.m. when he was told that demonstrators had

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