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DAVAO PRISON HOSTAGE DRAMA ENDS IN TRAGEDY; 21 DEAD; 10 RESCUED

Updated: August 17, 1989 05:00 PM GMT
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Twenty-one people, including five hostages and 16 prisoners, were killed here Aug. 15, nearly 48 hours after prisoners siezed 17 Joyful Assembly of God visitors during a Protestant prayer service.

The siege ended when soldiers assaulted the prison in the military compound in downtown Davao City. Ten hostages were rescued; two escaped earlier.

The tragedy resulted in investigations launched by the Philippines Justice Department and House of Representatives due to discrepancies between police accounts and an autopsy on an Australian lay missioner.

Jaqueline Hamill, 36, of Sydney, who had been in the Philippines one month, was among those slain. Doctor Jose Pagsalian said the autopsy indicated she was shot from a distance, indicating she may have died from police fire. But Davao Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Franco Calida said prisoners killed all five hostages.

"Jackie" Hamill, a missioner of the Sydney-based Christian City Church, arrived in Manila July 15 and in Davao July 17. It was the first time she had participated in prayer services inside the military prison compound.

-- The charismatic group conducted a Sunday service at the prison Aug. 13. After the service, food was served, but Pastor Jamuel Ducurne, an escaped hostage, said most prisoners refused food and returned to their cells.

A prisoner called "Aldam" asked for extra food for the family of a soldier living near the prison compound. At 4:30 p.m., he returned carrying a rifle and a belt of bullets.

Other prisoners immediately ran from their cells and grabbed the hostages. Pastor Ducurne was soon released by Felipe Pugoy, one of two siege leaders. Hostage Shirley Ensoy was released at about 9:30 p.m.

The military surrounded the camp, about 50 meters from San Pedro Cathedral in the heart of Davao City´s commercial area. Thousands of residents gathered. Some threw stones into the prison compound. Police formed a safety cordon.

-- All but one of the hostage-takers belonged to a group of Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL) prisoners who rioted April 2-5 in Davao del Norte province, calling themselves the "Wild Boys of Dapecol."

They had demanded transfer to the national prison in Muntinlupa near Manila. After 48 hours, under Pugoy´s leadership, they had surrendered to civilian authorities who promised they would be transferred to Muntinlupa.

Freed hostages in the April incident brought kidnapping and assault charges against them, so Justice Department officials delayed their transfer.

The prisoners refused to return to Dapecol, claiming fear of reprisals from prison officials. They were jailed in Davao city, and pleaded guilty to the earlier hostages´ charges Aug. 11.

-- Brigadier General Baccay said early Tuesday that all seemed quiet. "There is no timetable in the negotiations," he told the press, contradicting reports that a 3 p.m. deadline for surrender was given by the military.

Within minutes, the prisoners suddenly walked from their cells, each holding a hostage. They were led by Mohammad Nazir Samparani, a former Philippine Air Force sargeant dismissed from service in 1976.

Close behind him was Pugoy holding Hamill by the waist. They seemed about to move to the basketball court in front of the prison. Suddenly, about 10:30 a.m., a few gunshots were heard.

Reporters broadcasting from the scene said Samparani fired into the air, then hundreds of troops opened fire. Samparani and his hostage, Julieta Verzosa, were killed instantly.

Hostage Pastor Fred Castillo escaped, despite his artificial leg. Survivors said several hostages and prisoners were wounded running to safety. The other prisoners and hostages ran to safety inside the cells.

Within an hour, a wounded woman hostage was released for medical treatment.

-- At 3 p.m., a tear-gas shell was fired and the military attack began, continuing about five minutes. Reporters described the magnitude of firing as "like rain," saying it was impossible to tell if prisoners were firing back.

About 3:15 p.m., another round of intense firing occurred. Some hostages ran for safety along the side of the building. Among them was Hamill, who appeared to be wounded.

One of the officers leading the attack, Major Nonito Serrano, spotted the Australian woman, grabbed her and ran back to the shelter of an adjoining administration building.

Though wounded himself, he placed her in a Red Cross ambulance, which took her to Davao Doctors´ Hospital. Media witnesses described the wounded woman as "stiff and full of blood." She was confirmed dead on arrival at the hospital.

Survivors say she and Pugoy were wounded in the 10:30 a.m. incident on the basketball court.

END

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