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Seventeen killed in mass prison break in Papua New Guinea

Map of Papua New Guinea

Prison guards have shot dead 17 inmates after a mass breakout at Buimo prison in Papua New Guinea.

Three prisoners have been recaptured while 57 others managed to escape and remain at large.

Authorities have warned that the escaped inmates, some of them still awaiting trial, pose a serious threat to the safety of the area.

The prison in Lae, Papua New Guinea's second largest city, has seen repeated similar escapes over the past years.

"The majority of those who escaped were arrested for serious crimes and were in custody awaiting trial," police Chief SuperĀ­inĀ­tendent Anthony Wagambie was quoted in several local media.

"A good number were arrested by police last year for mainly armed robberies, car thefts, break and enter and stealing. Among them are convicted prisoners."

He warned the escapees that they would be caught and encouraged them to surrender themselves to community leaders, church elders or family members to then be taken back to prison.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In 2016, inmates reportedly stormed the main gate of the prison

Prisons in Papua New Guinea often suffer from overcrowding, poor conditions and long waiting periods for prisoners awaiting trial.

In 2016, at least 11 prisoners were shot dead and more than 70 escaped when they stormed the main gate, overpowering the guards.

The previous year, some 50 prisoners managed to escaped in a similar way.

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