Prison Stormed After Captives Raped, Murder: Officer
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Soldiers stormed a prison and killed convicts holding a religious group hostage after learning they had murdered male captives and raped the women, the officer in charge of the jail said today.
All 16 convicts and five of the 15 hostages died before troops recaptured the jail Tuesday in Davao City, 610 miles south of Manila.
The dead included a 9-year-old boy and Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, 36, of Sydney. One of the captives who was freed said Miss Hamill was raped at knifepoint the night before she was killed.
Officials said most of the hostages were slain by their captors before the assault and that none of the captives died in the military attack.
But in Canberra, Australia’s foreign minister said Miss Hamill may have been killed by soldiers when the convicts tried to break out of the jail hours before troops stormed it.
President Corazon Aquino’s spokesman said there was no evidence the military bungled the hostage crisis but announced an investigation into the bloody incident.
Lt. Col. Franco Calida, Davao City’s police commander and jail superintendent , said civilian officials tried to negotiate with the inmates after they seized the hostages Sunday during religious services at the prison.
A few hours before the attack, the convicts had tried to escape by using hostages as shields. During an exchange of gunfire, one captive and one inmate were killed but five hostages escaped. They told police of the rapes and killings, Calida told Manila radio station DZXL.
″When we learned that the women were raped and that male hostages were being killed, the task was given to us,″ Calida said. ″So the negotiating team was left with no other choice, because the hostages were being killed one by one. That is what the hostages were telling the negotiating team.″
The attack began at about 3 p.m. Troops rushed forward firing automatic weapons and secured the downtown jail after about 40 minutes, witnesses and officials said.
Miss Hamill’s body was found dumped outside the detention center with a bullet wound in the chest. She had only been in Davao City for a month.
The Rev. Fred Castillo, one of the freed hostages, said Miss Hamill and some of the nine other women hostages were raped. Other freed hostages said they heard the women screaming on Monday night.
″Jackie told me about the incident,″ Castillo said Tuesday.
In Canberra, Foreign Minister Gareth Evans said it appeared Miss Hamill may have been shot by a soldier during the escape attempt.
″In the doctor’s opinion, death was instantaneous and had occurred some hours previously, which would indicate she had been shot during the attempted escape incident in the morning.″ Evans said in a report to the Australian Senate. ″Ms. Hamill was seen to slump as the group retreated back through a gateway to the inner compound.″
Evans said he had asked Philippine officials to investigate her death.
In Hobart, Australia, Miss Hamill’s father, Ray Hamill, criticized both Australian and Philippine authorities for their handling of the crisis.
″Why the hell did they have to storm the prison?″ he told the newspaper Hobart Mercury. ″She gave her life to helping other people and now she has paid for it with her life.″
Presidential spokesman Adolfo Azcuna told reporters, ″There appears to be no indication of mishandling the situation although we are examining exactly whether what they reported actually is what really happened, whether or not the casualties could have been avoided and what can be done to avoid similar situations in the future.″
All the hostages were members of the Joyful Assemblies of God, a Protestant group. Calida said the group had been holding prison services for two years as part of a program ″to rehabilitate the prisoners″ to ″help them morally.″