Police Hunt Prisoners Who Escaped in Deadly Indonesia Jail Riot

Nearly 200 prisoners, including five charged with terrorism offenses, were on the run after escaping an overcrowded prison in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province during a deadly riot.

The violence yesterday, in which five people died, was triggered by a power blackout that cut water supplies in the Tanjung Gusta prison in the provincial capital of Medan, Djoko Suyanto, Minister for Security and Political Affairs, told reporters in Jakarta today.

Five out of nine inmates accused of terrorism who escaped are among 176 to have evaded capture, Suyanto said. The five may have already left Medan, National Police Chief Timur Pradopo said in Jakarta. All roads from the city are being monitored round the clock, he said.

“The situation at the prison is back under control,” Suyanto said at a briefing. “The chase for the escaped inmates continues.”

Tanjung Gusta prison holds 2,600 inmates, more than double its capacity of 1,054, Suyanto said. The government will review other prisons to avoid a repeat of yesterday’s riot, he said, adding the basic needs of inmates cannot be ignored.

Indonesia has stepped up raids against terrorism suspects since bombings in 2009 at Jakarta’s JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels killed nine people, including the two attackers. In Aceh province, police in 2010 raided what they said was a training camp for Islamic militants planning to bomb foreign embassies and hotels.

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