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CAIRO - Thirty-four Muslim Brothers, including leaders of the banned Islamist group, left a Cairo prison unhindered

Exact details were not immediately available

Egyptian Islamists - arrested during anti-regime protests – freed but dozens of bodies seen on road near Cairo prison.

 

 Sunday after guards abandoned their posts amid anti-regime protests, one of their lawyers said.

The escaped Islamists were arrested on Thursday either at their homes or during protests against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak that have been raging for five days, leaving over 100 dead.

Dozens of bodies were seen lying on a road near Cairo's Abu Zaabal prison on Sunday after rioting there killed at least eight prisoners amid nationwide anti-regime protests, a security source said.

Heavy gunfire was heard overnight at the prison in eastern Cairo with many prisoners escaping during the rioting.

Brotherhood leader Mohammed Mursi told Al-Jazeera television that the Islamists had not escaped.

"We did not escape. It was residents who opened the doors," he said. "We're fine," he said, adding that Brotherhood leaders Essam el-Aryan and Saad el-Katatni were among those freed.

Thousands of prisoners have escaped from detention facilities across Egypt, a security official said on Sunday, as anti-government protests raged into a sixth straight day.

Several thousand inmates during the night overwhelmed guards at Wadi Natrun prison north of Cairo -- which holds many Islamist political prisoners -- and spilled out into nearby towns and villages.

The official said that eight prisoners were killed during rioting at the Abu Zaabal prison east of Cairo.

Dozens held at a facility in Fayum, south of Cairo, escaped on Saturday evening in clashes that left one policeman dead.

Prisoners also fled several small prisons in other governorates in Egypt, but exact details were not immediately available.

The breakouts came as nationwide riots demanding the end of the regime gave way to looting, despite the army being ordered to step in to maintain the peace.

Several parts of the country were left in a state of near-chaos after police conceded control in the face of the rioters, prompting civilians to organise neighbourhood watch committees to guard public and private property.

A curfew has been imposed in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez and the army began patrolling the streets on Saturday, detaining looters.

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