#4. HM Maze Prison | County Antrim, Northern Ireland | September 25, 1983
With 15-foot fences, an 18-foot concrete wall laced with barbwire, and gates made of solid steel, the Maze was thought to be one of Europe’s most secure prisons … until a group of 38 convicted Irish Republican Army terrorists armed with smuggled guns and homemade knives took control of Prison H-Block-7. With officers as hostages, there was no one left to sound an alarm.
The inmates waited until a food truck made its 4:30 pm delivery, and then commandeered the vehicle by tying the driver’s foot to the clutch and telling him — at gunpoint — where to go. The next stop was the gatehouse, where prisoners, some now dressed in stolen guard uniforms, outnumbered the guards 4 to 1 and managed to circumvent Maze’s electronically controlled steel gates and flee the scene.
The whole thing took about two hours, during which one prison officer died of a heart attack and 20 more were injured. As for the bad guys, 19 were captured within a week. However, some law-enforcement officials believed they simply sacrificed themselves to ensure IRA higher-ups were able to elude capture. To this day, two of the escapees have never been found.
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