NEW DELHI: Eight suspected members of a banned Islamist group escaped from a high security prison in India Monday after slitting the throat of a guard with steel plates, police said.
The inmates staged the breakout in the early hours after attacking the unarmed guard with sharpened steel plates before tying together bedsheets to scale up and down several walls in the jail in the city of Bhopal.
Most of the group, who are accused of being members of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), have been in custody awaiting trial for “terror related activities” for the last three years, although two of them were only detained in February.
“Right now we are focusing on catching them. Investigations are on to know how did they manage to escape,” Yogesh Choudhary, Bhopal’s inspector general of police, told Agence France-Presse.
Choudhary said the inmates were housed in the same cell and staged the break-out some time between midnight and 2:00 am after overpowering the guard and slashing his throat with the prison-issue meal plates.
The breakout happened on the evening of Diwali, a major Hindu festival when revellers traditionally set off fireworks which can shroud the night skies in mist.
Police insisted that there had been no breakdown in security at the prison, which has a round the clock electronic surveillance system.
“The jail authorities are investigating. We have to wait and see if there was an insider hand,” Choudhary said.
Indian authorities have accused SIMI of carrying out several deadly bombings and having links with Pakistan-based militant groups.
Police blamed the group for the serial bombing of Mumbai commuter trains in 2006 which killing 187 people, as well as bomb blasts in New Delhi.
The government banned the group in 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
Hundreds of its members have been arrested in the past decade, as the group says it merely propagates “Islamic way of life” for Indian Muslims. AFP