Rabat, Asharq Al-Awsat – Morocco’s security authorities raised the level of alert in their hunt for nine men convicted with terrorism-related charges who escaped Kenitra central prison, north Morocco, at 5.30am on Monday morning.
The nine men were serving jail terms of up to life for the 2003 Casablanca bombings that killed 45 people.
The families, friends and neighbors of the escapees have been questioned and a wide-scale search in areas surrounding Kenitra is underway.
A source revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the police had visited the cells where the prisoners were detained and found that they had dug a hole that measured 2.75 meters deep, 65 centimeters wide and 21 meters long and led to the garden of the prison director’s home. It is thought that the inmates used kitchen utensils to dig the hole.
The source clarified that the security forces are conducting an in-depth investigation with prison officials and employees especially since it emerged that the guard dogs were not present when the escape took place raising suspicion.
All nine men came from Casablanca and seven of them were sentenced to life imprisonment, while two were given 20 years, Abderrahim Mahtade of the Annasir association, which supports Islamist prisoners, told AFP.
Mahtade said they had left a letter behind them denouncing the injustice of which they said they were victims and explaining that having resorted in vain to all legal measures, the nine men were left with only one option.
“We assume responsibility for our actions and there should be no search for accomplices among detainees or in the prison administration,” the letter said, according to Mahtade. “We will hurt nobody, but we are glad to get our beloved freedom back.”