By JUNIOR UKAHA
PRISON warders shot dead 17 of the 77 inmates when they broke out of Buimo Prison in Lae last Friday.
They also recaptured three while 57 managed to escape in the third mass breakout from the prison within three years.
Lae Metropolitan Superintendent Anthony Wagambie Jr told The National that details of the breakout would be released by the prison authorities.
Attempts to contact prison commander Supt Felix Namane yesterday were unsuccessful. But it is understood that the warders began firing when the 77 began their bid to escape.
Wagambie said the breakout happened at around 11am on Friday. The bodies of the 17 are at the Angau Memorial Hospital morgue.
Police and prison authorities will team up to look for the 57 still at large, he said.
“The majority of those who escaped were arrested for serious crimes and were in custody awaiting trial,” Wagambie said.
“A good number were arrested by police last year for mainly armed robberies, car thefts, break and enter and stealing. Among them are convicted prisoners.”
Last year, 12 of the 87 prisoners who escaped were shot dead when they stormed through the main prison gate. Authorities later managed to recapture 15 who had been badly injured.
In 2015, 50 prisoners escaped from Buimo in a similar manner.
Police have appealed to the relatives of the escapees to surrender them to authorities.
“If they (escapees) fear for their safety, they can come with their community leaders, church elders or family members so that I can ensure they are safely taken back to Buimo,” Wagambie said.
“I am warning those escapees that they will be caught.”
The city is currently in the grip of the general election campaign with people flocking to rallies organised by the 49 candidates vying for the Lae Open seat held by Loujaya Kouza, and the 25 contesting Governor Kelly Naru’s seat.
By JUNIOR UKAHA