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More than 150 inmates escape in Philippine prison break

More than 150 inmates have escaped from a south Philippines prison after gunmen launched an attack. The authorities suspect the gunmen are linked to Islamist separatist groups. Around 100 armed men stormed the jail and engaged in a shoot-out with guards, as prisoners fled in the chaos. A guard and six escapees were killed.

The Philippines, which is predominantly Catholic, has battled separatists in the south for decades, amid kidnappings, violence and jailbreaks. The latest prison break took place at the North Cotabato District Jail near Kidapawan city, on the island of Mindanao.

Prison authorities said the gunmen showed up around 01:00 local time (17:00 GMT Tuesday), opening fire on the facility, which held more than 1,500 men. The shoot-out lasted for about two hours, and in the confusion some prisoners fled to the back of the prison and climbed over the walls by stacking their beds, reported GMA News. Jail warden Peter Bonggat told AFP: “The [inmates] took chances because of the volume of fire. They used their bedding, piled them on top of each other to escape.” He added that he believed the attack was to free a number of Islamist rebels who were in the jail. Philippine military and police have launched a hunt for the escaped inmates. At least six have been recaptured.

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