Filipino police kill eight escapees

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A pistol had been smuggled into the jail in Isabela City, the capital of Basilan Island, and was used by a prisoner to seize guns from guards to launch the breakout yesterday, officials said.

Twenty of those who bolted from the jail, which holds 137 inmates, are believed to be rebels from the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group.

Among those who escaped were Abu Sayyaf leaders Abu Black, Abu Burhan and Abdulaziz Naya. They were awaiting trial for numerous abductions. “Probably it will take a long time before we get all of them,” provincial governor Wahab Akbar said. “But we will not stop the hunt until all prisoners are recaptured.”

Abu Sayyaf members involved in the kidnapping of three Americans, one of whom was killed, in 2001 are allegedly among the six. FBI agents would be allowed to interview some of the captives, Justice Secretary Merceditas Gutierrez said yesterday.