Prison guards in Papua New Guinea have shot dead at least 17 prisoners who were attempting a jailbreak.
The incident took place at the Buimo Correctional Institution in the city of Lae on Friday, but only became public after media reports on Monday.
Fifty seven prisoners managed to escape and are on the run.
In the past years, the Buimo prison has seen at least one mass escape every year. In 2016, 12 prisoners were shot dead and 18 were injured when 94 people attempted to escape the prison.
The bodies of the prisoners shot dead in the Friday incident were being kept in a local hospital morgue, a local newspaper reported.
Lae police warned residents to expect an upsurge in crime
in the days ahead, adding that the residents should “remain vigilant.”
“These are undesirable people and will be a threat to the community,” said Lae police commander Anthony Wagambie.
A file photo of prisoners in Papua New Guinea
“The majority of those that escaped were arrested for serious crimes and were in custody awaiting trial,” he told a local website, adding that police were planning to launch an operation to recapture all the escapees.
The Buimo Correctional Institution has been criticized in the past for over-crowding and poor conditions. A local broadcaster reported in January that Buimo, which was designed to hold 400 prisoners, was holding 384 convicts and 476 detainees on remand.