Article published on the 2009-12-13 Latest update 2009-12-13 16:10 TU
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2nd R) prays with (L-R) Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Rolando Puno, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and Secretary of National Security Adviser Norberto Nograles during the national security council meeting
MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu says that Abu Sayyaf was behind the dramatic raid by 100 people. But MILF commander Dan Asnawi has "taken advantage of the situation" and fled the jai, Kabalu adds.
“We are hearing that this is the Abu Sayaff, but who from the Abu Sayaff we do not know," the MILF representative told RFI. "The rest [of the escaped prisoners] are, we suppose, either Abu Sayyaf members or they have been charged with the crimes committed by the Abu Sayyaf.”
One guard and one of the raiders were killed in a pre-dawn gunbattle at the provincial jail on the island of Basilan, according to local police.
Deputy Provincial Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said that the MILF was probably behind the operation, because the MILF commander was among those who esaped.
He and another of MILF fugitive are said to be linked to the beheading of up to 14 US marines in a 2007 ambush in Basilan but Kabalu claims that an inquiry has cleared the movement of involvement in the killings.
Sakalahul also said that some Abu Sayyaf had also got out of jail.
Elsewhere in the south, security forces are continuing the hunt for those behind the massacre of 57 people, despite President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's lifting of martial law in the region on Saturday.