Hezbollah Militant Convicted of Terror Escapes Egypt Jail

Thousands of inmates escaped prisons across Egypt this week, including three Palestinians who smuggled their way back into Gaza.

A member of the Lebanese group Hezbollah convicted by Egypt on charges of planning attacks has escaped from prison, Egyptian security sources said on Thursday.

Sami Chehab, sentenced last April to 15 years in prison, had escaped on Sunday, they said. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has previously confirmed Chehab as a member of a Hezbollah cell that was working to smuggle weapons through Egypt to the Gaza Strip

Egypt protests Tahrir

Thousands of inmates escaped prisons across Egypt this week, including at least one jail that housed Muslim militants northwest of Cairo, security officials said.

On Sunday, 34 members of Egypt's opposition Muslim Brotherhood - including seven members of the leadership - walked out of prison after relatives of prisoners overcame the guards, a Brotherhood official said.

The relatives stormed the prison in Wadi el-Natroun, 120 km northwest of Cairo, and set free several thousand of the inmates, Brotherhood office manager Mohamed Osama said. No one was hurt, he added.

"They are on their way to Cairo," he said. The seven leaders are from the Brotherhood's Guidance Council and they were arrested on Thursday night and Friday morning during preparations for the massive protests on Friday against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Osama named them as Mohamed Mursi, Essam el-Erian, Mohamed el-Katatni, Saad el-Husseini, Mustafa el-Ghoneimi, Muhyi Hamed and Mahmoud Abu Zeid.

Prisoners have escaped from several major prisons across Egypt since the protests last Friday, when police morale and discipline started to break down. In many parts of Egypt police have abandoned their stations.

Also on Sunday, three Palestinian security prisoners reportedly escaped back to the Gaza Strip via a smuggling tunnel. Officials in Gaza said the three, including at least one Hamas member, had fled during the upheaval and returned to the coastal territory.

Egypt meanwhile has kept its border with the Hamas-ruled territory closed amid the raging turmoil. Palestinian border official Ghazi Hamad said that the closure was expected to last several days.

The prison breakouts added to the chaos engulfing the country as anti-government protests continue to demand the ouster of longtime authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak.