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5 dead in jailbreak riots

Updated: 2013-07-13 11:32
( China Daily/Agencies)

Police hunt for 100 escapees, regain control of Tanjung Gusta prison

Indonesian police on Friday hunted for around 100 inmates, including militants, who escaped from an overcrowded jail after setting the prison ablaze in riots that left five dead.

The inmates began rampaging through the jail in Medan city on Sumatra island on Thursday afternoon, setting fires and hurling bottles at guards in anger over power cuts and water shortages at the facility.

5 dead in jailbreak riots

Indonesian prisoners gather behind the window of the burned Tanjung Gusta prison building in Medan on Friday. [Photo/Agencies]

The Tanjung Gusta jail was engulfed in towering flames and scores of firefighters battled through the night to douse them.

Some 150 prisoners initially escaped and police and soldiers were on Friday still desperately hunting for around 100 after recapturing several dozen overnight.

Prisoners are often held in grim, overcrowded jails in Indonesia, and Tanjung Gusta is no exception as it currently holds well over double its official capacity of 1,054.

The prisoners were still in control of the jail early on Friday, casually chatting outside their cells while heavily armed security forces formed a cordon round the building, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

They allowed in about two dozen soldiers but did not let police enter, the reporter said.

"We don't like police, they are inhumane, they frequently beat us," one of the prisoners shouted, as another waved a charred gun and handcuffs at officers.

Heru Prakoso, North Sumatra province police spokesman, said that prisoners and a government official would hold talks later in the day in a bid to break the standoff.

"Seven inmates will represent the prisoners and will negotiate later today with a senior official of the justice and human rights ministry," he said.

Five people - three prisoners and two prison staff - had been killed in the riots, he added.

The two prison staff died trapped in their burning office, said Denny Indrayana, coordinating deputy minister for politics, legal and security.

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