One die, 158 inmates escape in Philippine prison break

More than 150 inmates of the southern Philippine jail escaped when suspected Muslim rebels stormed the dilapidated facility in a pre-dawn raid on Janaury 4, killing one guard.

By Author  |  Published: 4th Jan 2017  11:35 am
Armed police stand guard at the gates of the district jail, where more than a hundred inmates escaped from, in the town of Kidapawan, in southern island of Mindanao on January 4, 2017. Photo: AFP

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.

prison break
Prison officials (L) inspect the perimeter fence of the district jail, where more than a hundred inmates esaped from, in the town of Kidapawan on the southern island of Mindanao on January 4, 2017, as other inmates (R) remain in the prison compound. Photo: AFP

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.