Police in Myanmar’s eastern Kayin state have recaptured 18 of 41 convicts who escaped from the state prison in Hpa-an on Sunday morning, and are still searching for the others believed to be hiding in the jungle and in nearby villages, a state police official said Monday.
“Most of them have long sentences, and one has been handed a death sentence,” state police chief Aung Myat Moe told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “They know they have to stay in prison for a long time, and that’s why they tried to escape with an advance plan.”
“We have closed all entrances and exits in seven townships and are working with military units to search everywhere,” he said. “The Myanmar Police Force, the General Administrative Department, and the military are taking care of the prison’s security.”
The inmates were clearing bushes inside the prison grounds in Taungkalay village when some of them beat a detention center employee who was about to load trash and cut vegetation onto a truck to be driven away, according to a report by the online news journal The Irrawaddy.
The wounded employee was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
The prisoners seized the truck and drove out of the facility for 22.5 kilometers (14 miles), then ran into nearby jungle and other villages to hide, The Irrawaddy said.
Police shot inmate Kyaw Main Hla, who led the prison break, during their search operation. He later died in a hospital in Hpa-an, the report said, citing Kyin Naing, a local police officer who participated in the manhunt.
In the meantime, police are publishing reports about the manhunt operations online.
RFA was unable to reach prison officials for comment.
Former political prisoner Nanda Sit Aung, who spent time in the Hpa-an prison, said most inmates serving long sentences at the time were involved in narcotics cases.
“There are two big gates inside the prison, and they [the prisoners] can’t go outside the inner gate,” he said.
“They said these prisoners stole a truck outside of the jail and escaped, [but] that is impossible,” Nanda Sit Aug said.
Reported by Kyaw Lwin Oo for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.