Libya-protests1-620x362

More than 1,000 detainees escaped from a prison near the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi in a massive jailbreak Saturday, as protesters stormed the offices of political parties in Libya’s main cities.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the jailbreak at the Koyfiya prison came as part of the protests or if inmates received outside help. Protesters had massed across the country angry over the killing of an activist critical of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood group.

Those who escaped either face or were convicted of serious charges, a security official at Koyfiya prison said, confirming the jailbreak. He spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists.

There also was confusion initially about how many prisoners broke out, with numbers of escapees ranging as high as 1,200,

Benghazi’s security situation is among the most precarious in post-revolution Libya. Last year, the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack there.