Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis described the prison attack as a "commando operation, with hundreds of shots fired" CTV
reported. Five grenades exploded during the successful escape bid in which 11 Albanian prisoners, all convicted of robbery and theft, made a dramatic getaway.
Gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs arrived at the prison in a pick up truck and a van, and maintained fire for over half-an-hour. The escapees broke through cell windows and escaped through perimeter fences topped with barbed wire. Acting on reports that shots were also fired from within the prison, authorities are searching for weapons.
This was the third dramatic escape attempt within the last month from overstretched Greek prisons, but the first successful one. In February convicted murderer and gang boss Panagiotis Vlastos was foiled in a helicopter escape bid
from the same prison when guards managed to shoot him in the legs as he attempted to climb the helicopter's rope ladder.
One week ago convicted murderer and robber, Albanian Alket Rijai, along with two accomplices, seized five prison guards as hostages in Malandrino prison. Rijai told authorities he had explosives and threatened to blow up everything up if the three convicts were not allowed to leave the prison. He finally released the hostages after 24 hours. According to EuroNews
this was Rijais third prison escape bid. In 2006 and 2009 he successfully escaped from prison, using helicopters in both instances.
Police have launched a massive search for the convicts who escaped on Friday. Thus far three have been re-captured.