Hunt for escapees after new Indonesia jailbreak

Hunt for escapees after new Indonesia jailbreak
Indonesian soldiers clear a burnt gate in front of the Labuhan Ruku prison in Batu Bara, Indonesia's North Sumatra province August 19, 2013.

LABUHAN RUKU, Indonesia - Indonesian security forces Monday hunted for a group of inmates who escaped from an overcrowded jail on Sumatra island, in the latest breakout to hit the country's decrepit prison system.

Prisoners rampaged through Labuhan Ruku jail on Sunday, setting fire to the building and attacking wardens, angered at a failure to give them sentence reductions and their treatment.

Thirty prisoners managed to escape but authorities had recaptured 23 by 1:30 pm (0630 GMT), said national police spokesman Ronny Sompie.

"Seven inmates have still not returned," he added.

Police and soldiers regained control of the prison in Batubara district overnight after firing tear gas and warning shots into the air, said district chief J.P. Sinaga.

The prison had been almost three times over its capacity of 300 inmates when the violence erupted.

Officials did not know what offences the escapees had committed although Labuhan Ruku is not a high-security jail and was unlikely to be holding serious offenders, such as terrorism convicts.

Following two jailbreaks in Indonesia in July, Interpol issued an alert saying it suspected Al-Qaeda involvement in those breakouts and other escapes that occurred around the same time in different countries.

However, Indonesian officials have played down the possibility of links between the jailbreaks and the terror network.

Anti-terror agency head Ansyaad Mbai said he did not suspect Al-Qaeda involvement in Sunday's escape. "We see no indications of Al-Qaeda links," he told AFP.

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