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18 illegal migrants flee Indonesian prison

world Updated: Jan 14, 2009 12:00 IST

AFP
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Eighteen nationals from Afghanistan and Myanmar detained while trying to illegally enter Australia escaped from a detention centre on Wednesday in eastern Indonesia, an official said.

Justice ministry official Rochmadi said 13 Afghans and five people from Myanmar fled the immigration detention centre in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara province, thanks to the negligence of wardens.

"They ran away as their cells weren't locked. After attacking three wardens they left the prison in a car that was apparently waiting for them outside," he said, adding the escape occurred around 2:30 am (1830 GMT).

The migrants were arrested in December as they were about to rent a boat in Rote island, eastern Indonesian, with a plan to sail to northwestern Australia, the official said.

Police and immigration authorities were searching for the escapees.

Indonesia and Australia agreed to step up the fight against people smuggling during top-level talks in December after a spate of illegal arrivals in Australia blamed on trafficking networks.