AUTHORITIES in the Philippines said three inmates were killed on Sunday and another was wounded following a prison escape in Jolo, a southern Island notoriously known as a stronghold of Abu Sayyaf militants.
According to the South China Morning Post (via the AFP) the dead and wounded were among 14 prison escapees who fled a police station lock-up in the restive island.
Provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Mario Buyuccan was quoted as saying that some of those who escaped were linked to the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamist militant group responsible for a series of kidnap-for-ransom cases.
“They cut the bars of the jail and jumped from the second floor to the roof of the municipal hall building next door. Our troops responded and the inmates were killed and wounded in hot pursuit operations,” Buyuccan was quoted as saying.
“Some inmates are associated with the membership of the Abu Sayyaf.”
Soldiers and policeman recaptured the injured inmate and security forces have mounted a munhunt for the remaining 10 fugitives. Buyuccan added that the majority of the 32 inmates detained at the jail during the time of the incident faced drug charges.
Prison breakouts are common in the country’s southern region as the jails were inadequately guarded and were subjected to overcrowding and poor maintenance.
Earlier this year, more than 150 inmates broke out of a prison in the south after over 100 armed men stormed the facility, according to the AFP.
In May, 100 inmates broke out from two prisons in Marawi, Mindanao after they were freed by Islamic State-influenced militants from the Maute rebel group.
The Maute militants seized Marawi on May 23 and have been resisting daily assaults by government forces using aircraft and artillery.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he needed 15 more days to defeat the militants.
More than 500 people have been killed, including 389 militants, 90 members of the security forces, and 39 civilians, since the fighting erupted. About 260,000 residents have been displaced.
However, Buyuccan said the Sunday’s jailbreak had no connection to the fighting in Marawi.