and BRADLEY MARIORI
SEVENTEEN prisoners have been shot dead after a mass breakout of 77 prisoners at Buimo jail in Lae last Friday.
Their bodies are now at Angau Memorial Hospital morgue while Lae residents have been warned to expect an upsurge in crime in coming days.
The prisoners dashed for freedom about 11am on Friday after breaking out of the men’s detainee compound.
Lae police metropolitan commander Chief Superintendent Anthony Wagambie Jr said yesterday that of the escapees, 17 are dead, three captured and 57 still at large.
Mr Wagambie said details of how the escape happened would be released by the Correctional Services hierarchy.
He warned the public to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions when moving around during the national election campaign period. “These are undesirable people and will be a threat to the community,” he added.
Mr Wagambie called on family members and close associates of the escapees not to harbour them but to encourage them to surrender to police.
“If the escapees fear for their safety, they can go through their community leaders, church elders or family members to be brought to me so that I can ensure they are brought back to Buimo jail safely.
“I am warning them that they will be caught. They must do what is good for them and surrender,” he said, adding he had been in Port Moresby and only returned to Lae yesterday.
Mr Wagambie anticipates an increase in criminal activities in Lae as long as the 57 prisoners are on the run. “The public must be vigilant, but the escapees must surrender and not let us go after them.”
The bodies of the deceased are under heavy guard at Angau.
Buimo jail commander Felix Nomane refused to comment, hanging up the telephone when contacted yesterday.