GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories (AFP) – Two out of eight Hamas prisoners who broke out of a Cairo prison as a wave of anti-government protests swept Egypt arrived back in Gaza on Sunday, an official source said.
A senior official in the Hamas government confirmed all eight were on their way back to Gaza, with the report also confirmed by one of the escapees.
By Sunday morning, at least two of the prisoners who had been held in Abu Zaabal prison, northeast of Cairo, had made it back to Gaza, entering the strip through the tunnels which run under the border, a Palestinian official said on condition of anonymity.
They made their escape when thousands broke free from jails across Egypt as officials struggled to control the wave of chaos sparked by nationwide riots demanding the end of the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
Among those who arrived back in Gaza on Sunday was Mohamed al-Shaer, a big name in the cross-border smuggling enterprise, who was arrested in Egypt six months ago after completing the haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.
Shaer entered Gaza through the tunnels, witnesses said.
Several hours later, a second prisoner, Hassan Wishah also made his way through the tunnels to El Bourej camp in central Gaza. He had served three years of a 10-year sentence at the Cairo jail for unspecified security offences.
“All the Palestinian prisoners escaped from Abu Zaabal,” Wishah told AFP.
The remaining six prisoners were said to have reached the port city of Al Arish and were expected to reach Gaza later on Sunday, official sources said.
More than 100 people have so far been killed in Egypt which is being rocked by the biggest protests to sweep the country in more than 30 years.