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Warders thwart attempt by hard-core convicts to escape from Kamiti Maximum Prison

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By CYRUS OMBATI | January 25th 2016

Nairobi, Kenya: Prison warders at the Kamiti Maximum prison thwarted an attempt by hard-core convicts to escape from their cells Sunday night.

Gunshots were fired and sirens set off as the warders struggled to contain the situation.

Officials say the attempt was led by two prisoners who had earlier in July 2013 escaped from Shimo La Tewa before being recaptured.

The two were identified as Cosmas Mogaka and Hassan Mangale. They are serving life sentences they were given by over robbery with violence by a Kwale Court.

They had in 2013 made a successful escape from Shimo La Tewa before they were recaptured. Mogaka was arrested in Ukunda in a robbery after his escape from Shimo La Tewa while Mangale was arrested in Lunga Lunga. He had been staying in Ororo, Tanzania for five months.

Commissioner of prisons Isaiah Osugo said they had escaped from Shimo la Tewa prison by scaling up the prison walls using planks of wood.

"They have been cutting metal grills of their cells over days at Kamiti until Sunday night when they tried to get out. They had also mobilised other convicts but officers there thwarted the attempted break," said Osugo.

The two were held at Shimo la Tewa from 2009 after being transferred from Kwale prison where they were jailed on death row for robbery with violence before the sentences were overturned to life on appeal.

Official at the Kamiti said they plan to charge the two before they are placed in isolation cells.

"They seem determined to escape and that is why we have to put measures to contain them now," said Osugo.

The situation was contained after hours of tension. No injury was reported but residents neighbouring the institution said they heard gunshots rent the air.

Kamiti is one of the highly protected prisons but is facing a congestion crisis just like many others.

Officials have decried the issue of congestion and urged for urgent measures to contain the menace.

Correctional Services Principal Secretary Micah Powon wants the Judiciary to speed up cases of inmates in a bid to decongest prisons in the country, which have over 28,000 more inmates than their capacity.

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