Philippine government said over a 100 armed men with links to Muslim rebels stormed a prison in the southern Philippines on Wednesday, killing a guard and freeing 158 prisoners, some of them Islamic militants.
Prison Warden, Peter Bongat, said in Manila that the gunmen opened fire at guards at the North Cotabato District Jail in Kidapawan, with 1,511 inmates, 158 managed to escape.
The Southeast Asian, majority Roman Catholic nation has for decades been plagued by insurgency by Muslim rebels in its southern islands.
The office of the president said eight prisoners had since been caught, two had surrendered, while six were killed.
Shirlyn Macasarte, acting Governor of North Cotabato, said her office had been tipped off about the plan by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) to free its members as early as the second quarter of last year.
“They were involved in murders and at the same time, I think they have experience in bomb making so we watched them closely”.
Macasarte said the leader of the attackers, known by the alias Commander Derbie, had links with the BIFF, a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
She said some members of the MILF and BIFF were said to be behind the killing of 44 police commandos in a secret mission two years ago to capture a Malaysian bomb maker.
The acting governor said the U.S. State Department has placed a 5 million dollars bounty on his head. (Reuters/NAN)