KIDAPAWANCITY – Suspected Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels stormed before dawn Wednesday a provincial jail in southern Philippines after overpowering ill-equipped guards and freed over 150 prisoners.
At least 5 people were dead in the daring raid at the North Cotabato District Jail in Kidapawan City blamed by authorities to rebel leader Esmael “Derby” Nasser. His group, armed with anti-tank rockets and automatic weapons clashed with jail guard and killed one of them – Excell Rey Vicedo - before freeing some rebels accused as behind several deadly bombings in the province.
Other prisoners took advantage of the raid and escaped, but security forces were pursuing them. One village official, Satar Manalundong, was reportedly killed by policemen after some of the prisoners allegedly ran in his house. Manalundong, a member of the MILF, was said to have fought with policemen, but his family denied this and claimed he was shot dead by members of the Special Action Force.
Three other people, including a prisoner, were also killed in the violence.
The MILF, which signed an interim peace deal with Manila in 2014, did not issue any official statement or whether the raiders were members of the rebel group. Police and military, and even the provincial government also did not give their statement on the raid, but the jail had been attacked by rebels in previous years and also freed their prisoners. (With a report from Rhoderick Beñez)