3 Nov 2011

Manhunt launched in PNG's Oro province for escaped inmates

7:34 am on 3 November 2011

A manhunt has been launched in Papua New Guinea after 10 inmates, including several hardcore criminals, escaped police custody on the nation's southeast coast.

The inmates escaped from the Popondetta police cells in Oro province about midnight on Tuesday, after removing a square metal grill affixed to the cell block's brick foundation.

Police say eleven originally escaped, but one turned himself in yesterday morning.

Provincial police commander, Chief Superintendent Micah Anaiw told AAP, that a manhunt was launched overnight for the remaining 10.

He adds the escape is a major setback for the police, who have in the last few days heightened their operations in efforts to clamp down on the increased crime rate in Oro province.

Superintendent Anaiw criticised a lack of magisterial services in the region, which he blamed in part for the increase in crime.

He says Oro province had three resident magistrates a number of years ago, but two had since retired, leaving just one to serve the province.

Superintendent Anaiw says the lack of magisterial services, police manpower shortage and lack of logistic and equipment to combat crime in Oro province has given rise to crime.