21 PRISONERS ESCAPE PAPUA NEW GUINEA JAIL

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Lae breakout latest in recent PNG string

By Frank Rai PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 7, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea, Lae city is on red alert after 21 hardcore and low-risk detainees from the Lae Central police lockup dashed for freedom in the early hours of yesterday.

The detainees, whom police believe might be dangerous, made a hole through the brick wall in one of the cell blocks and fled for freedom around 3am to 5am yesterday.

Details of how the detainees executed the breakout were sketchy yesterday, but Lae police metropolitan superintendent Chief Supt Nema Mondiai confirmed that an internal investigation was underway to establish the cause of the breakout.

Apart from those who fled for freedom, 16 male detainees including the female detainees remained in their cell blocks.

Chief Supt Mondiai said how the detainees managed to escape from one cell block was confusing at this stage.

"We (police) will release a report on the cause of the breakout and take appropriate actions after the findings. I ordered an investigation team this morning (yesterday) to establish the cause of the breakout," Chief Supt Mondiai said.

The Lae police boss claimed that the detainees might have used a hard object to make a hole at the western side of the lockup towards the police administration building and managed to escape.

Chief Supt Mondiai said police would know the exact number of high risk and low risk detainees once the investigation was completed, adding that the investigation would give a clear picture on the detainees.

He attributed the mass break-out on lack of appropriate improvement to the cell blocks with security walls.

Chief Supt Mondiai however, termed the break-out as one of the mass escapes in four years and added that most of the detainees were likely to be hard core prisoners.

"The status of the detainees is not known at this stage but I believe that most of them are dangerous and I call on all city residents to take extra precaution for their safety," Chief Supt Mondiai said.

The Lae police boss said a ‘man hunt operation’ was underway to clamp down on the escapees, adding that the detainees were yet to be recaptured.

Chief Supt Mondiai also appealed to the Lae city residents, including those at the settlement blocks and "hot spot" areas to assist police with vital information which would lead to the recapture of the detainees.

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