115 prisoners have escaped in the last four weeks

Some 115 hardcore criminals have escaped from four major prisons in the country in the last four weeks, according to the Post Courier newspaper.

The escapees were serving time in Barawagi prison in Chimbu, Buimo prison in Morobe, Buiebi prison in Southern Highlands and Bomana prison outside Port Moresby.

In the first incident, 11 high risk prisoners “walked” out of the main prison gate at the Barawagi jail in Chimbu and dashed for freedom on December 11 in daytime. A source from the prison informed the Post-Courier that CS warders with the help of local villagers helped recapture six of the escapees but five of them were still at large.

The source had said that the prisoners were all convicted of offences like rape and murder, who simply walked out of the prison when there were no guards around. The prison escape drew sharp criticism from the provincial police commander, Superintendent Jos-eph Tondop over the way the prisoners were left unguarded.

In the second incident, 73 inmates at the Buimo jail outside Lae city took the jail commander Superintendent Samson Jaro hostage and used him as a human shield to make their escape. The inmates include 51 remandees and 22 convicts, most of whom were high risk prisoners.

Reporters were told that earlier that day 10 prisoners escaped and Mr Jaro had gone in to speak to the remaining prisoners but was taken hostage and the second group made their getaway. CS warders however recaptured two and shot one dead.

On Christmas Eve 19 prisoners ran away from the Buiebi jail outside Mendi in the Southern Highlands. However in a combined CS and police operation, three of the escapees were recaptured while the rest remain at large.

Provincial police commander Jimmy Onopia said there were no guards manning the prison at the time of the escape because there were sporting activities that were played at the jail and all the warders were tired and had retired to their homes.

In Western Highlands, CS officers at the Baisu jail outside Mt Hagen prevented what could have been a major jail break by prisoners in October last year. Jail commander Superintendent Simon Sobaim reported a day later that prisoners had disarmed a CS officer and taken him hostage in an attempt to break out of prison. Supt Sobaim said there was a scuffle between the prisoners and the warders when the inmates made their bid to escape. He said the prisoners tried to escape because they were hungry as rations to the prison were stopped by a nearby tribe in a dispute over the contract to supply food to the prison.

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