BATAM, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian police launched an intense manhunt Wednesday to recapture more than 100 prisoners after a group of inmates fled detention on Batam island — the second jailbreak in Indonesia in less than a week.
The latest escape occurred early Wednesday when 12 inmates — all awaiting trial on drug charges — beat two guards and a janitor before escaping from a state detention center on Batam, which is located near Singapore, said police chief Brig. Gen. Endjang Sudrajat.
He said the group first hit the janitor and a warden with an iron from a bed, then overpowered another guard before breaking a window in the warden’s office and fleeing.
Police launched a search across the island and recaptured one inmate, Sudrajat said. The facility has a capacity of 250, but is currently holding 400 detainees.
Last Thursday, 212 prisoners, including nine terrorists, escaped from a prison in Medan on Sumatra island after starting a deadly riot in which five people were killed. Some 103 of them have been recaptured or given themselves up to authorities.
“We are investigating whether the jailbreak in Medan inspired inmates here,” Sudrajat said.
The riot in Medan was believed to be triggered by a blackout that knocked out power to water pumps, leaving inmates a whole day without water in the facility that held 2,600 prisoners, nearly triple its normal capacity of 1,054.
Police are still tracking down the remaining 109, including four convicted terrorists, searching streets, markets, bus terminals, ports and homes of the escapees’ relatives.
Among escaped terrorists from Medan is Fadli Sadama, 28, who was serving an 11-year sentence for his involvement in a bank robbery and attack on the police station that killed three officers in 2010 in North Sumatra.
National police have released pictures of Sadama and three other terrorists who escaped — Abdul Gani Siregar, Agus Sunyoto and Nibras.
Sadama, believed to be a dangerous terrorist with broad networks with radical groups in Malaysia and Thailand, was caught in Malaysia in 2010 prior to his planned trip to join extremist groups in southern Thailand.
“It’s not impossible that he is trying to find ways to join his groups in Malaysia or Thailand,” said Ansyaad Mbai, head of Indonesia’s anti-terrorism agency.
The director of Malaysia’s special task force on operations and counterterrorism, Mohamad Fuzi Harun, said Malaysian authorities were working with Indonesia to block the terrorists from entering Malaysia.
“We are monitoring very closely and taking steps to increase border security,” Harun said Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur. “We are doing all we can to prevent them from slipping in.”
Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, contributed to this report.