More than 150 inmates of a southern Philippine jail escaped when suspected Muslim rebels stormed the dilapidated facility in a pre-dawn raid on Wednesday, killing one guard, authorities said.
The attack added to a long history of daring jailbreaks in the strife-torn south, home to a decades-old Muslim separatist insurgency as well as extremist gangs that have recently declared allegiance to the Islamic State group.
A two-hour long firefight broke out when more than 100 armed men believed to have been led by a local Muslim rebel commander attacked the jail in Kidapawan city at about 1:00am, jail authorities said.
“It’s to rescue their comrades under our custody. It is a rescue operation,” jail warden Peter John Bonggat told local ABS-CBN television.
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.