Seventeen shot dead in mass jail break in Papua New Guinea | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 15.05.2017
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Seventeen shot dead in mass jail break in Papua New Guinea

Prison warders shot dead 17 prisoners during a mass breakout in the city of Lae on Friday, media have reported. The jail has seen several such escapes in the past years, with many fatalities.

Seventeen prisoners making a dash for freedom from a prison in Papua New Guinea were shot dead by warders, reports said on Monday. A further 57 escapees are believed to be still at large.

The jail break took place in Buimo jail in the country's second largest city, Lae, but was not reported on publicly until Monday. The prison, which has been criticized in the past for overcrowding and poor conditions, has experienced at least one mass breakout every year since 2014.

The PNG Post-Courier and The National newspapers both said three other prisoners had been caught.

Call to surrender

"These are undesirable people and will be a threat to the community," Lae police commander Anthony Wagambie told the Post-Courier, speaking of the escapees.

He urged family members and friends of the escapees not to shelter them. "I am warning them that they will be caught. They must do what is good for them and surrender," he said.

Wagambie said many of the prisoners had been arrested last year for crimes such as armed robberies, car thefts and breaking and entering.

Twelve would-be escapees were shot dead and 18 injured last year at the prison when 94 escaped, while 55 men fled in 2015 and 44 the year before that.

Papua New Guinea has one of the highest crime rates in the world, with carjackings, gang rapes, assaults, armed robberies and the stoning of vehicles among the most frequent offenses. Extremely high unemployment, poverty, and intertribal conflicts have been cited as factors.