Manila: A guard was killed and 158 inmates escaped when gunmen attacked a prison facility in southern Philippines on Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Jail Officer Peter Bongat said the gunmen attacked the prison in North Cotabato province around 4.00 a.m. (local time), Xinhua news agency reported.
He said the facility houses 1,511 inmates, including some “high profile” prisoners, belonging to the rebel group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters operating in Mindanao.
Another man was also injured in the pre-dawn attack. The Philippines, which is predominantly Catholic, has been battling separatists in the south for decades.
Groups like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Abu Sayyaf have conducted terror attacks as well as kidnapping tourists for ransom.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. A witness said the attackers, clad in black suit and armed with firearms, stormed the jail apparently to free some inmates serving sentences for murder and illegal drugs.
Bongat said a manhunt was underway to recapture the escaped prisoners.
In August last year, three inmates facing charges of illegal possession of explosives and drugs also escaped from the same jail.