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Two prison guards shot and killed during inmate escape

the escaped inmates Image copyright Georgia Department of Corrections
Image caption A manhunt is underway in rural Georgia for two escaped inmates

Two prison officers were shot and killed during an escape on Tuesday morning in the US state of Georgia.

Inmates Donnie Russell Row and Ricky Dubose are suspected of overpowering the guards while being transported by bus to another facility.

Police say the men, who are both serving time for armed robbery at Baldwin State Prison, hijacked the prison transport bus.

They later commandeered another car, and are considered armed and dangerous.

The first call to police came shortly after 07:00 local time (11:00 GMT), once the men had apparently taken control of the prison bus on Highway 16 between the towns of Sparta and Eatonton.

Officials have shut down roadways in the region, about 65 miles (104km) from Atlanta, to conduct a search and secure the 31 other inmates that had also been aboard the bus.

The US Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the FBI, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are investigating.

According to police, the incident occurred around 05:45 local time near the town of Eatonton.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said the inmates are "dangerous beyond description", adding that investigators are reviewing surveillance footage from on board the bus to determine how the inmates were able to attack the guards.

"They were inside the caged area of the bus," Sheriff Sills said at a press conference. "How they got through the locks and things up to that area I do not know."

The prisoners "overpowered" the guards and "they then disarmed them and one of the subjects shot and killed both guards", according to a bulletin issued by the Putnam County Sheriff's office.

Correctional officers Christopher Monica, 42 and Curtis Billue, 58, were both killed, the Georgia Department of Corrections confirmed.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The vehicle which the suspects are believed to be travelling in

"Our hearts are heavy as we mourn the loss of two of our officers, who are our family, and our priority is to locate these fugitives and bring them to justice for this heinous act against those working to protect the public," said Corrections Commissioner Gregory Dozier.

"Obviously it's a tragic day for the family of corrections and the loved ones of these two officers. My heart is still in the soles of my shoes," Mr Dozier added.

The inmates are thought to be travelling in a 2004 green Honda Civic, which they carjacked.

They were armed with the officers' .40 calibre Glock pistols, officials say.

Nearly six hours after the escape, police in the city of Madison, Georgia, reported that a home had been broken into and clothing had been stolen.

The suspects left prison uniforms, and the stolen car has not yet been recovered.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Georgia authorities took to Facebook to taunt the wanted men

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said: "Our heartbreak is matched only in our resolve to bring their murderers to justice.

"No effort will be spared in pursuit of the killers, and no state resources required in this endeavor will be spared."

Both men had been serving life sentences.

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