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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Some 50 heavily armed men stormed the Lanao del Sur provincial jail in Marawi City Saturday afternoon and freed 23 inmates, including eight terror suspects.
Outnumbered and outgunned, the jail guards did not offer resistance when the raiders struck at 5:45 p.m., according to the Police Regional Office.
Armed with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), Soviet-made AK 47, M16 rifles and other high-powered weapons, the attackers disarmed the guards and set free eight comrades and the rest of the inmates numbering 15.
The eight terror suspects, including three women, were arrested recently for carrying weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDS) in Lumbayanague, Lanao del Sur.
Believed to be members of the Maute local terrorist group based in Butig, Lanao del Sur, the raiders used four getaway vehicles, including a truck owned by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
The truck was later abandoned at the lake shore in Barangay Caloocan, Marawi. It is believed that the raiders and rescued comrades used motorboats to facilitate their escape.
The attackers, led by Abdullah Maute, took jail guard Modasir Manwang who was later released.
The police report did not say how many jail guards were present at the time of the attack.
The 15 other escapees were still unaccounted for.
As this developed, Police Regional Office 10 Regional Director P/CSupt Noel Constantino issued an order anew to strengthen security measures and intensify intelligence monitoring on the eve of the escape.
“These escapees pose serious threat to public safety and must be prevented from sowing further terror,” Constantino said after directing all units to conduct strong checkpoints to constrict entry of said terror group in Northern Mindanao.
Constantino also distributed mugshots of the escapees to the media as he called on the public to help provide information to government authorities for the re-arrest of the escapees.
He also reminded the public to be extra vigilant as he sought their support to rally behind the PNP in its fight against terrorism. (With report from Froilan Gallardo)