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Militant flees prison in Lebanon

August 19, 2009|Associated Press

BEIRUT — Eight members of an Al Qaeda-inspired group sawed bars off their cell windows in a high-security Lebanese prison Tuesday, scaled down the building using blankets tied together, then stood on each other's shoulders to help one jump over a wall and escape, security officials said.

Prison guards scrambled and stopped the other seven from fleeing, the officials said.

The officials described Taha Suleiman as a dangerous member of the Fatah Islam group, which fought a three-month battle against the army in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon in 2007.

At Roumieh prison, Interior Minister Ziad Baroud ordered several police officers who were on duty to be suspended until an investigation is completed, the state-run National News Agency reported.

He also ordered all officers on duty in Lebanon's prisons to be transferred to other departments within 15 days and lower-ranking policemen within two months, it said.

Security troops launched a search for Suleiman.

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