More than 60 prisoners have escaped in Liberia – breaking out of a jail in the south-eastern city of Zwedru, the police have confirmed to the BBC.
State-run radio said the escapees were well armed and a search was under way in the forests that border Ivory Coast.
The region hosts tens of thousands of refugees from Ivory Coast who fled violence following elections in 2010.
Attacks on Ivory Coast have reportedly been launched from neighbouring Liberia in recent months.
Gold mine alert
Police Commissioner Christian Massaquoi told the BBC it has not yet been established how the prisoners escaped on Wednesday from the maximum security facility in Zwedru, the capital of Grand Gedeh county.
Grand Gedeh administrator Peter Solo told state-run Liberian Broadcasting System radio that some of those involved in the jailbreak were “high-profile convicts” without giving further details.
He said gold-mining areas in particular had been put on alert.
The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia says that like many parts of rural Liberia, Grand Gedeh county is currently cut off from the capital because of bad roads during the rainy season.
Prisons in the West African nation are congested mainly because of delays in taking suspects to court, he says.
In June, the Liberian government extradited a group of Ivorians from Zwedru prison accused of trying to launch cross-border raids on Ivory Coast in support of former President Laurent Gbagbo, who is facing war crimes charges in The Hague.
He lost elections in November 2010 but refused to leave power, leading to a six-month crisis in which some 3,000 people were killed. BBC