MANILA, Philippines – A group of Muslim-extremist inmates at a maximum-security jail in Manila agreed to surrender Monday, a day after they snatched weapons from guards in an escape attempt that left at least five people dead, police said.
"There was some delay because they feared for their safety," said Avelino Razon, police chief for the Manila area. "But they changed their minds and they've agreed to come out."
Mujib Hataman (search), a Muslim congressman who was negotiating with the inmates by telephone, said the prisoners demanded assurances they wouldn't be harmed, speedy trials and the right to air their grievances to authorities, he said
Police spokesman Leopoldo Bataoil, who warned of a major assault if the inmates didn't surrender their weapons, said about 10 men were involved in the uprising, led by Abu Sayyaf members Alhamzer Manatad Limbong and Kair Abdul Gapar.
At least three guards were killed, said police Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. Two Abu Sayyaf members also were killed, police said.
A spokesman for the Abu Sayyaf suspects, detainee Hazdi Daie, threatened in a telephone interview that if police stormed the building, "then you will hear bombings all over Manila."
Limbong, also known as Kosovo, was allegedly involved in a mass kidnapping in 2001-02 that left several hostages dead, including two Americans, and a ferry bombing a year ago that killed more than 100 people in the Philippines' worst terror attack. Gapar is a kidnap-for-ransom suspect.
The drama began when a suspected Abu Sayyaf member, who was about to be escorted to a morning court hearing, overpowered a guard before he could be handcuffed, took a rifle and shot the prison officers around him, police officials said. Other inmates then grabbed weapons.
It wasn't clear if hostages were being held, Cruz said. But Daie, the inmates' spokesman, told DZBB radio that the suspects were holding about 100 hostages. Police said only inmates remained inside the aging building.
An armored personnel carrier moved in front of the steel-fenced detention center. Another was positioned outside the gate. In a building across from the detention center, about two dozen police took cover. Several ambulances were on standby.
The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for deadly bombings and ransom kidnappings in which some hostages have been beheaded. A number of Abu Sayyaf suspects have managed to escape from jails, which are often dilapidated, with inadequate and sometimes corrupt staff.
The jailbreak came on the day the new national police chief took office.
"We are fast becoming the world's laughingstock because of what has been happening in our jails," said Sen. Manny Villar, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs.