BAMAKO, June 16 (Reuters) - A number of prisoners escaped from the main jail in Mali's capital Bamako on Monday after gunfire was heard at the site, officials and witnesses said.
Reports on the number of prisoners who escaped ranged widely. One official had initially said as many as 30 had fled but a diplomat and a security source later suggested that only around two were still on the run after several members of the mid-afternoon jail break were recaptured.
"There was some gunfire and then the escape," said the security source. "They were armed. There were around 10 but eight of them have been recaptured. The police is investigating how they got the weapons."
It was not immediately clear if any Islamist prisoners were involved in the escape. Mali has endured two years of political instability since Islamist rebels took advantage of a 2012 coup to seize the desert north.
French troops drove the al Qaeda-linked Islamists from the desert zone last year but other rebels remain in the north and newly elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has struggled to retain the local and international support that swept him to power last year.
Mali's army suffered a heavy defeat in fighting with separatist rebels last month and authorities earlier this month arrested an army officer and a number associates suspected of plotting against Keita. (Reporting by Adama Diarra; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Daniel Flynn)