Five die and 200 inmates escape in Indonesia jailbreak
Thousands of policemen and soldiers deployed in effort to recapture prisoners
Police officers stand guard outside Tanjung Gusta prison, which was set ablaze by inmates after a riot broke out last night. Five prisoners were killed and hundreds escaped during the riot. Photograph: Roni Bintang/Reuters
Scores of inmates, including terrorists, are still on the run after escaping from a crowded Indonesian jail that was still burning today after prisoners set fires and started a deadly riot.
Thousands of policemen and soldiers are deployed around Tanjung Gusta prison to blockade roads linking Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, to other provinces, while fire brigades were battling the fires.
About 200 prisoners escaped following the riot late yesterday in which three prison employees and two inmates were killed.
Officers deployed to hunt the escaped inmates have re-arrested 55 of them and are searching for the remaining prisoners who are still at large, said local police chief Lt Col Nico Afinta. Three of 22 convicted terrorists have been recaptured.
He said the prison employees who died, including a woman, were trapped and killed in an office building that was burned by prisoners during the riot.
The riot appeared to have been triggered by a power blackout that knocked out water pumps, leaving inmates without water since yesterday morning.
Inmates forced their way out from the prison while others set offices on fire and held about 15 officers captive inside the jail, prison directorate spokesman Akbar Hadi said. None of the hostages was still being held this morning.
The prison holds nearly 2,600 prisoners while its normal capacity is 1,500, Mr Hadi said.
Witnesses said gunshots were heard from inside the prison, and television footage showed security forces carrying a white body bag into an ambulance from the burning building.
The fire sent raging orange flames jumping several yards into the air and a huge column of black smoke billowing over the jail.
Mr Hadi estimated about 500 inmates were resisting calls to stop the riot and said an evacuation was planned for the safety of prisoners who could become hostages as tensions showed no signs of easing.
Vice minister of justice Denny Indrayana, who is in Medan overseeing the operation, has requested evacuation of all inmates and appealed to those who remain at large to give themselves up.
“Legal action will be taken to chase them, and tougher action will be applied to those who refuse to surrender,” he said.