Tue, 04 Sep 2001

119 immigrants escape

MATARAM, West Nusa Tenggara: At least 119 of the 251 Middle Eastern immigrants being held at a temporary quarantine center have escaped, according to police.

Provincial police spokesman Adj. Comr. Tri Budi Pangastuti said that police had found it difficult to stop them from escaping.

"They were determined to escape the quarantine center. They used many tactics to be allowed to go outside the facility," Pangastuti was quoted by Antara as saying.

A certain group had arranged the illegal immigrants' escape from the province, she said, adding that all exit gates had been guarded.

"They allegedly used wooden boats prepared by the group to sail for Australia," she said.

Most of the illegal immigrants were Iraqis, while some were Afghans.