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August 22, 2010

25 Islamic Militants Escape Tajik Prison

Authorities in Tajikistan say they have launched a nationwide search for 25 Islamic militants who broke out of a prison in the capital and killed at least five prison guards.

Officials say the inmates - many of whom belong to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan - carried out the violent escape late Sunday in Dushanbe.

Authorities say the escapees killed one guard and seriously wounded two others. The inmates allegedly took weapons from the prison and changed into camouflage clothing before fleeing.

Early Monday, authorities say the escaped inmates showed up at a nearby checkpoint and killed four other prison guards.

Authorities say some of the escapees are Islamic militants who were recently convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. They include nationals of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Russia's North Caucasus region.

Officials fear the escapees are fleeing toward the porous, 1,300-kilometer border with Afghanistan.

Officials with Tajikistan's State Committee for National Security say they have asked authorities in Afghanistan and Russia to be on the lookout for the inmates.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.