Ex-Filipino senator briefly held hostage in jail

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police have killed three detained Muslim activists linked to the Islamic State group after staging a prison rampage on Sunday that saw a police officer stabbed and a former opposition senator briefly held hostage during a a failed escape attempt from the maximum-security facility at the capital’s police headquarters, police said.

National Police Chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said former Senator Leila de Lima was unharmed and taken to hospital for examination after the brazen escape and attempted hostage taking at the center detention center for prominent detainees of Metro Manila Main Police Camp. .

One of the three inmates stabbed a police officer who was delivering breakfast after dawn in an open space, where inmates could exercise outside. A police officer in a guard tower fired warning shots and then shot and killed two of the prisoners, including Abu Sayyaf’s commander Idang Susukan, when they refused to yield, police said.

The third inmate ran to Lima’s cell and briefly held her hostage, but was also shot by police commandos, Azurin said.

“She is safe. We were able to quickly resolve the incident inside the detention center,” Azurin told reporters.

Susukan, who had been accused of dozens of murders and beheadings of hostages, including foreign tourists, and other terrorist attacks, was arrested two years ago in southern Davao city.

The other two detainees, Arnel Cabintoy and Feliciano Sulayao Jr., were suspected members of Dawlah Islamiyah, a Muslim militant group implicated in bombings and other deadly attacks in the south of the country. They were arrested in 2019 in the capital region’s outskirts of Quezon and faced non-dischargeable charges with Susukan, police officials said.

Many militants belonging to Abu Sayyaf, which the United States and the Philippines consider a terrorist organization, and the Dawlah Islamiyah have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group.

The officer who was stabbed with an improvised knife was in serious condition in a hospital, Azurin said. Another inmate was injured in the rampage.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the three inmates killed staged the rampage in an attempt to escape and did not specifically target de Lima.

After the two activists were shot and killed, the third inmate ran and took de Lima hostage in her cell. The inmate demanded a helicopter to allow him to escape before he was shot and killed, Abalos said.

De Lima has been detained since 2017 and faces trial on drug charges she says were fabricated by former President Rodrigo Duterte and his officials in an effort to muzzle her criticism of his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs. , which left thousands of child suspects dead and triggered an investigation by the International Criminal Court as a possible crime against humanity.

Duterte, who has insisted on de Lima’s guilt, resigned from office on June 30 at the end of his turbulent six-year term and was replaced by Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of a former dictator who was ousted in a pro-democracy uprising.

In a court-sanctioned interview with The Associated Press at the prison grounds in March, de Lima appeared fearless over her years-long confinement at the facility, which is surrounded by a maze of high concrete walls. and topped with rusting barbed wire and guard towers. Prison guards armed with assault rifles constantly roamed around and stood guard.

“I am a fighter,” the former head of the human rights commission and justice secretary told an AP reporter at the time. “It’s hard, but I can manage.

“I can never lose hope,” said de Lima, 63.

De Lima’s years of detention have prompted calls for his immediate release from the European Union parliament, some US lawmakers, United Nations human rights experts and watchdogs. international.

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