17 prisoners shot dead in PNG breakout

2:10 pm on 15 May 2017

Seventeen prisoners have been shot dead in Papua New Guinea during a mass breakout from the jail in Lae.

PNG police on patrol

A file photo of PNG police on patrol: Local media reported a heavy police presence at Angau Memorial Hospital. Photo: AFP

Lae police said the dead were among 77 prisoners who broke out of the Buimo prison on Friday.

Three were captured and 57 are still at large.

Lae police commander Chief Superintendent Anthony Wagambie said people should remain vigilant as those who escaped were "undesirable" and "a threat to the community".

The Post Courier reported the bodies of the dead escapees were under heavy guard at Angau Memorial Hospital.

In February last year, 12 Buimo prisoners were shot dead in a breakout by 90 prisoners who had overpowered guards at the main gate.

Investigations into previous prison breakouts have highlighted overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and long waiting periods for remand prisoners at the jail.

According to local reports, the number of prison breakouts at Buimo, PNG's largest jail, reduced from 44 in 2013 to 10 a year later.

In 2014, a new high security perimeter fence was installed at Buimo.