29 Jun 2007

Mass prison break in PNG Highlands after most jail staff seconded to help with election

6:26 pm on 29 June 2007

55 prisoners, many of them considered dangerous, are on the run in Papua New Guinea's Chimbu Province after escaping from Barawagi jail last weekend.

The Post Courier newspaper reports that the escapees had forced their way out the main prison gate.

The Hghlands police chief Simon Kauba has called on prison authorities to tighten security.

He says he does not think that the escapers will pose a threat to the elections.

The breakout brings to 152 the number of prisoners who have escaped from Highlands prisons this year.

The Barawaji escapers include a number on rape and murder charges.

A corrections officials says just three officers were guarding the jail compound which was holding 170 prisoners at the time of the breakout.

Most of the jail's other staff had been deployed to provide security for the elections.