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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Militants in Manila jailbreak
Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi
The hunt is on for Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi
A convicted bomb-maker and confessed member of regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah has escaped from jail in the Philippines capital Manila.

Indonesian Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi escaped with two other men early on Monday, national police chief Hermogenes Ebdane said.

Al-Ghozi was serving a 17-year sentence in a Manila prison for possessing explosives and obtaining passports fraudulently.

Police say al-Ghozi has also admitted to involvement in a string of deadly bombings in Manila in December 2000 that killed 22 people and injured more than 120.

If you have a gun and you see them, you can shoot them
Police chief Hermogenes Ebdane
His confessions have been used to file charges against alleged co-conspirators, including Saifullah Yunos, who pleaded guilty to helping plan the attacks.

Al-Ghozi escaped before dawn from the heavily-guarded Camp Crame detention centre, which also houses the national police headquarters.

No details of the escape were released, but a government spokesman, Hemes Riviera, admitted to the BBC's East Asia Today that al-Ghozi may have "paid his way out".

"All speculation points to that," Mr Riviera said.

The incident is a severe embarrassment for Philippines President Gloria Arroyo, who ordered that the policemen who were meant to be guarding the escapees be sacked.

The police chief identified the other fugitives as Abdul Edris and Merang Abante, both suspected Muslim militants.

"If you have a gun and you see them, you can shoot them," Mr Ebdane told reporters as he showed them pictures of the escaped men.

Abante is reported to be a senior member of the Philippines kidnapping group, Abu Sayyaf, who was captured in January.

He was accused of kidnapping American Jeffrey Schilling in 2000, who later escaped.

Edris is also thought to be a member of Abu Sayyaf. He was among several men indicted in the US for alleged involvement in the kidnapping of tourists from a resort in May 2001.

The jail break was a major blow to Manila's anti-terrorism efforts and came as Australian Prime Minister John Howard was in the Philippines to provide counter-terrorism assistance.

"Special teams are now conducting manhunt operations to track down these fugitives," Mr Ebdane said.

Hemes Riviera, Philippines government
"The president has ordered a manhunt"

Profile: Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi
14 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
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12 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Mosques attacked in Philippines
03 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Manila bomb suspect admits guilt
08 Jul 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Guide to Philippines conflict
06 Dec 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's Muslim militants
09 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific

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