More than 150 inmates of a southern Philippine jail escaped after suspected Muslim rebels stormed the dilapidated facility in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday, killing one guard, authorities said.
It was gathered that a two-hour firefight broke out when hundreds of armed men believed to have been led by a local Muslim rebel commander attacked the jail in Kidapawan city at about 1am.
Supt. Peter Bungat, warden of Amas of Kidapawan District jail, told radio station that gunmen led by a certain Commander Derbie opened fire at his men guarding the facility, leaving one of his men dead and another wounded.
“It’s to rescue their comrades under our custody. It is a rescue operation,” Bonggat told local ABS-CBN television.
“It’s well planned. Escapees used blanket as their getaway. There’s ongoing clearing operation. We have manhunt operation,” he said.
Bonggat said the attackers were believed to be a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the nation’s largest Muslim rebel organisation that is in peace talks with the government.
At least 158 prisoners had escaped, Bonggat said, although it was unclear how many of those were linked to the attackers or were just other inmates who took advantage of the chaos.
“The [inmates] took chances because of the volume of fire … they used their bedding, piled them on top of each other to escape,” Bonggat said.