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Abu Sayyaf Inmates Take Over Prison Outside of Manila

Muslim detainees at a Philippine prison have killed at least five people in an attempted escape. Members of the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping gang are still in control of the detention facility in suburban Manila while they negotiate a possible surrender.

The incident started early Monday morning when an inmate at Camp Bagong Diwa overpowered a prison guard and took his rifle. Fellow inmates and guards joined the fray and a gunfight ensued at the detention facility.

Metro Manila's police chief General Avelino Razon says members of the violent Islamic kidnapping group, Abu Sayyaf, led the escape attempt.

The facility in suburban Manila holds 129 Abu Sayyaf militants, including suspects in the recent abduction and murder of Western tourists.

The Abu Sayyaf claims to be fighting for a separate Islamic state in the southern Philippines but has been notorious for kidnappings, bombings and murder.

Muslim leaders negotiating with the group say the inmates had complained of long detentions, lack of speedy trials, and no way to have their grievances heard.

Security in the Philippines' prison system is notoriously lax and its poorly paid staff vulnerable to pay-offs. Last year, about 50 prisoners, including Abu Sayyaf members, escaped on the southern island of Basilan. In 2003, an Indonesian terror suspect walked out of his cell in Manila's police headquarters - embarrassing President Gloria Arroyo in her anti-terror campaign.