By ELIAS LARI and CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
EIGHT inmates were shot dead, 28 were recaptured while 66 escaped during a mass breakout at Baisu Prison in Mt Hagen yesterday, an official says.
Correctional Service Commissioner Stephen Pokanis said the incident at around noon involved more than 100 inmates, most of them on remand awaiting their court cases.
“Over 100 escaped at midday and prison officers managed to recapture 28, while shooting dead eight. The rest are still at large,” he said.
“The institution (has been) closed because of high security assessment.”
Prison and police officers have:
- secured the prison compound to ensure the safety of the warders and their families; and,
- began the search for the 66 on the run.
Pokanis said some of those who escaped had been waiting in prison for more than 12 months for the outcome of their cases in the National Court.
Pokanis said he expected to get more details on the breakout today.
Baisu jail commander Supt Timbi Kaulga said he would comment later when he had all the details.
It is believed that the prisoners managed to escape through the main gate during the lunch hour. They ran up a hill towards the nearby bushes.
Western Highlands acting provincial police commander Chief Insp David Kongua said police were called in to assist the prison officers.
He said most of the escapees were remandees. Some were facing charges such as rape and murder.
“My men were sent there to make sure that the situations is brought under control. The police mobile squad and task force were called in to assist,” Kongua said.
Police manpower has been boosted in Mt Hagen to look for the escapees and ensure public safety and security in the area.
Kongua urged people to assist the police and prison officers with any information on the 66 escapees.
He warned the people that the escapees were dangerous and should be treated as such.
“This can be one of the worst moments for the CIS and police officers when bad people escape from custody,” Kongua said.
He also warned people not to harbour escapees as it is an offence. Kongua also called on the escapees to surrender.
The bodies of the eight dead are at the Mt Hagen provincial hospital morgue.