A history of jailbreaks in the southern Philippines

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 05 2017 04:47 PM

MANILA - The escape of 158 inmates from a southern Philippine prison this week adds to a long history of jailbreaks in the troubled region, where rebels and criminal gangs hold sway.

Abysmal security and corruption that allows rampant smuggling into the rundown prisons are among the explosive cocktail of factors that allow the jailbreaks to happen.

Here are some of the successful jailbreaks:

- April 10, 2004: Fifty-three inmates break out of the main jail on Basilan island, which is a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf Islamic militant group. The Abu Sayyaf was blamed for the bombing of a ferry in Manila a few months earlier that killed 116 people. Twenty Abu Sayyaf militants were among the escapees.

Police later kill nine of the fugitives, including four Abu Sayyaf members, and recapture 15 others.

- February 2, 2007: The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the nation's biggest rebel group which has waged a decades-long separatist rebellion, free 49 inmates of Kidapawan jail, the same prison where this week's breakout took place.

One of the escapees is Khair Mundos, a top leader of the Abu Sayyaf. After the US government places a $500,000-bounty on his head, Mundos is recaptured in 2014 in Manila.

- December 13, 2009: More than 100 gunmen believed to belong to the MILF blast a wall of the Basilan provincial jail and spring 31 inmates. One prison guard and one assailant dies.

Among the escapees is a man accused of taking part in the beheading of 10 marines in an MILF ambush more than two years earlier.

- March 4, 2010: Mohammad Jaafar Maguid, alias Commander Tokboy, escapes from his prison cell in Alabel town, according to the government's Philippine Information Agency.

Maguid later founds and leads Ansarul Khilafa, a small militant organisation that pledges allegiance to the Islamic State group (IS) and becomes one of the nation's most wanted criminals. He is killed in a police raid at a southern beach resort on Thursday.

- August 27, 2016: Dozens of Islamic militants of the Maute group, another gang to pledge allegiance to IS, raids a jail in Marawi city and frees 23 inmates. 

Eight of the escapees are Maute members who were arrested a week earlier carrying pistols and improvised bombs at a military checkpoint. 

The Maute group is then blamed for a bombing a month later in southern Davao city that kills 15 people.

- January 4, 2017: About 100 gunmen storm the Kidapawan jail and engage in a two-hour battle with overwhelmed prison guards. One of the guards is killed and 158 inmates escape in what authorities say is the nation's biggest jailbreak.

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