Muslim extremists who have pledged allegiance to the terrorist group Islamic State attacked a prison in the southern Philippines and freed eight fellow militants, police said Sunday.
Fifteen other inmates escaped with the militants at the Lanao del Sur provincial jail in Marawi City, 816 kilometres south of Manila, on Saturday, city police chief Parson Asadil said.
The extremists, who were believed to be members of the Maute Group, were armed with high-powered weapons such as AK-47s and M-16 rifles when they stormed the jail, Asadil said.
The escaped inmates were said to include the group's leader Hassim Balawag Maute and three women. They were arrested last week after soldiers found homemade bombs and a pistol in their van at an army checkpoint.
Senior Superintendent Agustine Tello, the provincial police director, said a manhunt has been launched for the escaped detainees and the perpetrators.
The Maute Group is a local armed group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. It has been held responsible for bomb attacks, kidnappings and beheadings in Lanao del Sur province.