Manila prison shoot-out kills four

Philippine police have killed a suspected Muslim militant who grabbed a guard's rifle while under arrest at the national police headquarters and shot dead three officers.

Suspected Abu Sayyaf rebel, Buyungan Bongkak, wrested the rifle from a policeman and opened fire in the country's main police base, said officials.

He killed three officers and wounded three others before being cornered by police sharpshooters during the three-hour crisis.

The incident follows the escape of high-profile Indonesian militant al-Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi from the same police headquarters in July.

Mr Bongkak was one of five people arrested in connection with the deadly bomb attacks in the southern city of Zamboanga city last year.

The building was immediately surrounded by elite forces after the alarm was raised.

Tear gas

At one point, armed police were seen entering the building with a stretcher and later re-emerged with a wounded policeman, who was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

As they left, gunshots could be heard from inside.

"He was hiding from room to room and he entered a toilet, that's where we cornered him," said police director Eduardo Matillano.

He told reporters, officers used explosives and tear gas to "neutralise him".

Mr Matillano said he would recommend that all arrested terrorist suspects are moved to a maximum-security detention centre in future to prevent a repeat of such incidents.

The incident will be a major embarrassment to the Philippines authorities, already reeling from the escape of al-Ghozi, a suspected high-ranking member of Jemaah Islamiah, from the same offices.

It is expected to further heighten security concerns ahead of a visit to the Philippines by US President George W Bush later in the month.

07/10/2003

Bron : BBC World

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