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3 dead in Kidapawan city jail attack

/ 10:01 PM February 20, 2012

KIDAPAWAN CITY—Three persons were killed while 15 others, including a senior jail official, were wounded as armed men tried to spring a robbery suspect from the city jail on Sunday night.

Supt. Chino Mamburam, city police chief, identified the detainee as Datukan Montok Samad, also known as “Lastik Man” and suspected to be a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Samad has been held at the city jail for two years, he said.

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Senior Supt. Cornelio Salinas, provincial police chief, said the gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at 9:30 p.m. at the city jail, which is near City Hall and the city fire office. Several fire officers, including provincial fire marshal Insp. Romeo Tactaquin and jail guards were wounded.

Red Cross workers, who were nearby at that time, tried to bring the victims to the hospital, but the attackers suddenly opened fire. Killed were Benny Balmediano, a Red Cross driver, and students Ian Carlos Sevilla and Mark Anthony Morales, who were in a store near the jail.

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Guards and policemen traded shots with the attackers for five minutes until they withdrew. Some rode on motorcycles while others fled on foot, Salinas said.

“The wounded are now safe and some of them even went home after being given medical attention,” he said.

The attack was the latest in a series of daring attempts by armed men to rescue their imprisoned comrades.

In June 2009, suspected MILF rebels stormed the provincial jail in Barangay Amas here but failed to get their comrades.

In 2007, 49 inmates bolted jail after alleged members of kidnap gang, Pentagon, mounted a lightning rescue operation to free three gang members. Among those who escaped following the raid were three inmates linked to the spate of bomb attacks in Central Mindanao.

Mamburam said Sunday’s incident only heightened the need to transfer high-risk prisoners to more secured facilities. A few years ago, several such prisoners, including bombing suspects, were moved from various jails in North Cotabato to the Bicutan facility in Metro Manila. Williamor A. Magbanua with a report from Jeoffrey Maitem, Inquirer Mindanao

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