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Twenty Prisoners Killed During an Attempted Jail Break - 2005-03-23

At least 20 prisoners were shot and killed by Kompong Cham police Wednesday afternoon during an attempted jailbreak in that province.

Kompong Cham governor Hun Neng told VOA prison guards were forced to shoot to defend themselves when the prisoners took 5 prison officials hostage and attacked them.

The prison chief was among the five people the prisoners took as hostages and was critically wounded by the prisoners and by the shootout with police.

Governor Hun Neng said there are still more than 20 prisoners on the run and police are trying to capture them.

Human rights officials criticize the lack of security measures that allowed the prisoners to take hostages and escape.

The prisoners reportedly used knives and other tools in their escape plan. Human rights officials said many of the prisoners make furnitures in prison and have access to many tools including knives and axes.