SAMUT SAKHON (AFP): Eight armed Burmese prisoners holding the jail governor and six of his staff hostage have broken through the gates of the prison here and driven outside the compound in a pick-up truck, police said this afternoon. Provincial police chief Major General Surasri Sunthornsarathoon said negotiators were now trying to win the release of the hostages, two of whom have been shot and injured. “The driver of the car is holding a hand grenade and the prison chief is sitting on his lap,” he said. “Inside the cab, another convict is holding a gun,” he added. Witnesses at the scene said they had seen sharpshooters in position on top of vans parked around the entrance to the jail, about 36 kilometers from Bangkok. The hostage-takers have demanded that the governor and his deputy travel with them to a border town and ensure their safe passage to Burma. Corrections Department director general Siva Saengmanee told reporters that, apart from governor Somwong Sirivej, who has been shot in the hand, a prison teacher has also been wounded. Also being held hostage are five guards. About 500 commandos and well-armed uniformed and plainclothes police have been deployed around the jail. Earlier, one of the gunmen paraded a terrified hostage in front of some 200 reporters and television crews who had gathered outside the compound. The Corrections Department said the gunmen were not political prisoners, but were all on remand on criminal charges, including drugs offences.
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