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October 20, 2009

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Hunt widens for prison escapees

POLICE in the capital of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region yesterday found the taxi that four convicts hijacked after they killed a guard and broke out of prison over the weekend, but the men were still at large.

Around 6,000 police officers were deployed in the hunt for the escapees, centered in Hohhot City, and security was tightened across the city, according to Yan Bingqiang, deputy police chief for Inner Mongolia.

More than 150 checkpoints were set up on major roads to inspect all vehicles leaving and entering, and the search area was broadened to 12 neighboring cities.

The Ministry of Public Security issued wanted posters yesterday for the four, who are between 21 and 28 years old. Two of the men were on death row facing execution for manslaughter and the others were serving life terms for armed robbery. A reward of 50,000 yuan (US$7,325) was offered for clues leading to the arrest of any of the men.

The taxi was recovered along a ring road almost 10 kilometers from the city's No. 2 prison, from which the felons escaped on Saturday, China National Radio reported yesterday. The escapees dragged the taxi driver out of the cab and drove away on their own. The driver was slightly injured.

The four were reported to have 700 yuan in their possession, which enabled them to hire another cab when the stolen one ran out of gas, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily. The second cab driver said he did not know his passengers were escaped prisoners, and their destination was not revealed.

The escapees - Gao Bo, Qiao Haiqiang, Dong Jiaji, and Li Hongbin - stabbed prison guard Lan Jianguo to death during a work period on Saturday, and one of the men put on Lan's uniform.

They then followed another guard to the prison gate, knocking him out with a blunt object. It was not immediately clear how they were able to leave the prison without proper identification.

The murdered guard had been working at the prison for more than 10 years. His survivors include two-year-old twin daughters.


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