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Peru prison escape leaves 17 "highly dangerous" inmates on run

(Xinhua)

09:23, February 20, 2012

LIMA, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- A total of 17 dangerous and "heavily armed" Peruvian prisoners escaped on Sunday from the Chacapallca prison in the country's southern province of Puno, the district attorney's office said.

Oscar Jimenez, district attorney for Puno, said the prisoners who had escaped early hours of dawn Sunday were between 21 and 42 years old and were heavily armed.

The prisoners, who were aided by their collaborators in their escape by modern vans and trucks and with weapons, took advantage of intense un-seasonal rains when they broke out of the jail, surprising the authorities of the National Penitentiary Institute (INPE).

The details as to how the prisoners managed to escape were not immediately clear, but local press reported that a number of INPE staff was used as hostages by the prisoners who also took the uniforms from several prison guards to help camouflage their way out of the prison.

Jimenez said the local authorities already had developed a plan on recapturing the prisoners, including coordinating events with police authorities in Ecuador's border regions with Bolivia and Chile where it is expected that some of the inmates will try to go.

According to INPE's Chief Executive Jose Guadalupe 129 of the 240 prisoners held at the Chacapallca facilities are considered prisoners for whom "social re-adaptation" will be difficult.

The prison, which was renovated in 1997, is located in a mountain region at 4,600 meters of altitude with few populated zones close by.

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