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Filipino inmates remain in their cell at the North Cotabato District Jail in Kidapawan city, Cotabato Province, southern Philippines, after a massive jailbreak Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. In one of the country's largest jailbreaks in recent years, nearly 160 inmates escaped after suspected Muslim rebels attacked the jail before dawn Wednesday killing at least six people as pursuing government forces traded fire with gunmen, officials said. (AP Photo)

Suspected Muslim rebels stormed a Philippine jail and more than 150 inmates escaped


Armed men stormed a jail in the southern Philippines Wednesday morning, killing a guard and allowing more than 150 inmates to escape, Al Jazeera reports.

Six inmates were killed in shootouts with police and armed forces and eight others were captured and returned to the North Cotabato District Jail in Kidapawan. The armed men are believed to be Muslim rebels tied to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but no group has yet claimed responsibility.

The jail held 1,511 inmates at the time of the attack, warden Peter Bongngat Jr. said.

This has happened before

Bongngat said inmates escaped using a ladder at the jail's back wall. The initial attack led to a two-hour firefight that distracted guards and police. 

The Philippines is predominantly Catholic but has been fighting Islamic rebels in its southern island region for decades. President Rodrigo Duterte is trying to set up peace talks with the largest rebel groups.

Rebels have committed other recent jailbreaks, allowing at least 31 to escape in two other attacks, police said.

Suspected Muslim rebels stormed a Philippine jail and more than 150 inmates escaped

WATCH | Here's a look at police's efforts to recapture the escaped inmates.

Bongngat said the attackers were suspected to include members of rebel groups who had broken away from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has signed a peace deal with the government.

The jailbreak is the biggest in the nation's history, official Xavier Solda said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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