More than 3,000 prisoners are believed to have escaped the main prison in Democratic Republic of Congo, security sources have told the BBC.
The authorities say only around 50 prisoners got away when armed men attacked the prison on Wednesday.
The security sources also said dozens of people were killed during the attack on Makala prison.
Ne Muanda Nsemi, leader of the political-religious sect Bundu Dia Kongo, is among those who escaped.
A police spokesperson told a local radio station, Radio Okapi, that the prisoners were dangerous, and called for anyone who saw them to tell the authorities.
The authorities accuse supporters of Mr Nsemi’s supporters of being behind the attack.
Mr Nsemi is a self-styled prophet seeking to revive the ancient Kongo kingdom.
Bundu Dia Kongo is campaigning to restore a monarchy in parts of DR Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Angola and Gabon.
Mr Nsemi was an MP when he was arrested in Kinshasa after police accused him of inciting violence.