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At least 30 inmates escape from Indonesian prison

August 18, 2013

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — About 30 inmates escaped after a riot broke out Sunday at an overcrowded prison in western Indonesia that was set ablaze, an official said.

The riot at the Labuhan Ruku facility in the North Sumatra district of Batubara began Sunday afternoon after a group of inmates who had been transferred from other prisons staged a protest due to the overcrowding, said prison official Wibowo Joko Harjono.

He said other inmates joined in the protest before it turned violent, leading to the beating of a prison warden.

Harjono said initial reports said about 30 inmates had escaped by climbing the 6.5-foot (2-meter) wall, but the actual number is still being confirmed. The prison has a capacity to house only 300 inmates but now has about 800 inmates.

Ten fire trucks were mobilized to extinguish the fire while police and soldiers blocked roads around the prison, which is located about 140 kilometers (90 miles) from the province capital of Medan.

Local police chief Lt. Col. Japerson Sinaga said two prison officers were still being held captive by prisoners Sunday night.

“A team has been sent to negotiate their release,” Sinaga said. He added, however, that it was difficult to enter the facility partly due to the fire.

Sinaga said police are still chasing the escaped inmates by checking vehicles and buses, while hundreds of officers, other along with soldiers, were being deployed around the prison.

It was the second jailbreak in the province and the third in Indonesia this year.

In July, about 240 prisoners, including convicted terrorists, escaped following a riot at a facility in Medan, the country’s third-largest city, after they set fires and started a deadly riot that left five people dead. About 90 of the convicts remain at large.

Days later, 12 inmates overpowered guards and escaped from another crowded prison in Bata, off Sumatra island.