6 killed, 158 inmates escape in Philippines prison break

Manila, Jan 4 (IANS) A jail guard and five inmates were killed during a southern Philippines jailbreak before dawn and in the subsequent manhunt on Wednesday, authorities said.

At least 158 inmates escaped when some gunmen, clad in black suits and armed with high-powered firearms, stormed a jail in North Cotabato province around 1 am (local time), in a bid to free some inmates, Xinhua news agency reported.

A jail guard was killed and an inmate was injured in the incident.

Five more inmates were killed during the manhunt to re-arrest the escaped criminals, according to jail officials.

Felix Capalla, one of the jail leaders, said: “Twenty jail guards fought the heavily armed raiders but were overpowered by the attackers.”

He said the 20 jail guards were armed only with pistols and Armalite rifles while the raiders were armed with high-powered Barret 50-calibre sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ismael D. Sueno, secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, said the Philippines government had secured the help of the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), in recapturing the escaped inmates.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella appealed for “calm and sobriety” after the incident.

–IANS

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