Monday, December 14, 2009

Security forces kill escaped prisoner in Basilan

BASILAN, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / December 14, 2009) – Philippine security forces on Monday shot dead a prisoner and captured another as the hunt continues for dozens of gunmen and prisoners who escaped from a jail in Basilan province.

Basilan deputy governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said 31 prisoners, many of them Abu Sayyaf militants and two senior rebel leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, escaped December 13 after more than a hundred gunmen raided the jail in the capital city of Isabela.

“One prisoner was killed in a clash and another is captured and the hunt continues until all those who escaped are recaptured,” he said, adding, the clash occurred in the village called Maligui in Isabela City.

Sakalahul said Abu Sayyaf militants and Moro rebels staged the daring raid, breaking a hole in the prison walls and killing a jail guard before overpowering the three other guards and springing the prisoners. One of the attackers was also killed in an ensuing firefight that wounded another jail guard, he said.

The MILF denied it was involved in the raid, but admitted that one of those who escaped from the jail is a rebel commander accused by the military of beheading 10 soldiers in a firefight in Basilan.

“One of those who escaped is our commander Dan Asnawi who is being accused by the military as involved in the beheading of the soldiers in Basilan. Asnawi was never involved in the beheading and he probably joined those who escaped from the prison because he is being implicated in a crime he did not commit,” Eid Kabalu, a spokesman for the MILF, which is currently negotiating peace with Manila, said in a separate interview.

Police and jail officials said another MILF rebel – Kamsa Limaya - also escaped together with the others, but Kabalu said the prisoner is not their member. Limaya is said to be involved in the July 2007 beheading of the soldiers in the town of Al Barka.

“Many of those who escaped are Abu Sayyaf members,” Kabalu said, adding, his group is willing to cooperate with the authorities in the investigation into the jailbreak.

Basilan jail warden Jul Sali said the lack of government support to help improve the prison facility could be blamed for the escape of the inmates. “We lack vehicles and weapons and we need more guards. We need more support to beef up the security of the prison,” he said.

It was the fourth time in five years that prisoners had escaped from the provincial jail. At least 3 Abu Sayyaf prisoners – tagged as behind the beheading of 10 soldiers in Basilan – also escaped in December 2008 from the provincial jail after overpowering their guards.

And in July 2007, at least 16 hardened criminals, including four Abu Sayyaf militants, escaped from the prison after destroying the windows of their cell.

In April 2004, at least 53 of the more than 130 prisoners at the provincial jail, including 19 Abu Sayyaf members, also escaped using a smuggled .45-caliber pistol which they used in overpowering the guards. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: