TAIPEI, Taiwan - Six inmates in Kaohsiung Prison broke into the weapons cache and equipped themselves with 10 rifles and handguns yesterday, before taking two hostages, including the warden, and set up a standoff with more than 250 armed police outside the prison as of press time.
Under the pretense of seeking medical treatment, the six inmates reported to the prison clinic before storming into the reception room, where they took two guards hostage.
With the hostages, the inmates arrived at a security area, where they started to negotiate with the prison's Deputy Warden Lai Chen-jung and head guard Wang Shih-tsang, who arrived at the security area to swap places with the two hostages.
The six inmates then broke into the prison's weapons cache and took away four T65 assault rifles and six handguns along with more than 200 bullets.
Prison Warden Chen Shih-chih later met with the criminals and offered himself as a hostage in exchange for his deputy's release.
After a failed attempt to break through the main prison gates, which are fortified with three layers of doors, the hostage-takers retreated to the security area once again, where they fired warning shots into the air. Their attempted escape through a prison side door by car was blocked.
The inmates are believed to have planned the whole manoeuvre well in advance. The inmates were involved in a dispute, drawing prison guards' attention before taking charge of the situation.
Hostage May Be Released Today
Kaohsiung City Police Department was in charge of the security situation at the scene. More than 250 armed police were dispatched outside the prison. Snipers were also in position as a precaution.
As government authorities conducted negotiations with the inmates, families of the inmates were also brought in as an attempt to influence the criminals. Former Kaohsiung City Councilor Li Rong-zong also entered the prison to talk with the criminals.
According to Li, Cheng Li-te, the likely leader of the six inmates and an important figure in the crime group Bamboo Union, has asserted that the group plans to harm no one other than themselves and that the hostages will be released today. However, Cheng also wants to make sure that his demands such as higher prisoner wages and a parole are heard.
Despite the inmate's vow to release hostages, the intense situation had apparently not improved as of press time. Local media reported loud noises resembling gunshots at the prison around midnight today. The apparent gunshots were heard not long after National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun entered the prison, according to media reports.