15 Apr 2003

Vanuatu Government authorised police to be armed in hunt for escaped prisoners

3:56 pm on 15 April 2003

The Vanuatu Government has confirmed that for the first time it has authorised police to be armed to hunt for two escaped prisoners, believed to be carrying guns.

Six prisoners broke out of Port Vila jail earlier this month.

Four have since been recaptured but the two still on the run are listed as highly dangerous with reports they armed themselves with guns after breaking into a house.

The Prime Minister Edward Natapei approved the request from Police Commissioner Robert Diniro that police be armed - the first time in Vanautu's 22 years of independence that police have used firearms to hunt escaped prisoners.

Both police and members of the paramilitary are hunting the two men.

Mr Diniro has appealed to the men to surrender or risk being shot.