PNG fugitive Tommy Baker’s prison rescue bids fail – but another planned

Armed guards at Giligili jail
Armed guards at Giligili jail in Alotau, Milne Bay Province foiled two escape plots. Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Marjorie Finkeo in Port Moresby

Two attempts by Papua New Guinea’s most wanted man, Tommy Baker, to rescue 11 members of his notorious gang detained at the Giligili jail in Alotau, Milne Bay Province, last week have failed.

But a third – bigger – is being planned for this week, security sources have revealed.

Giligili jail commander Chief Superintendent Ray Gideon, speaking to the PNG Post-Courier from Alotau, said the gang’s focus was now being shifted to the prison and other law and order institutions.

He has requested additional manpower from Correctional Services headquarters. Some men were flown in from Port Moresby on Sunday to boost prison manpower to counter any attacks by the gang.

Chief Superintendent Gideon said the criminal gangs had turned their focus on Giligili prison after targeting government properties in town two weeks ago.

“Intelligence reports have indicated another attack will happen next week, but we have requested for and received additional manpower, and are ready for any possible attack,” he said.

He said the two attempts to rescue the gang members were made last Wednesday night between 8 and 9pm and again on Saturday night between 11pm and 12 midnight.

Smart intelligence
However, constant police patrols in the area and smart intelligence gathering from communities have helped them stave off the attacks.

“The prison institution is under threat because some of the criminal elements are inside and attempts have been made to rescue their friends but officers are manning all the possible attack positions,” Gideon said.

Alotau gang leader Tommy Baker
Alotau gang leader Tommy Baker … wanted for murder, armed robbery and piracy. Image: PNG Post-Courier

He said more than 50 gang members had walked from Rabaraba to Giligili and were preparing to attack the jail. But police mobile squad patrols, acting on community tip-offs and mobile phone tracking technology, averted what could have been a nasty attack.

He said the gang members escaped back into the forest when their plan failed. On Saturday, between 11pm to 12am about 20 criminal gang members took the same route to attack the prison but they were disturbed again by regular police patrols along the highway.

He said police and security forces were using technology and community support to track the movements of the Baker gang and other criminal elements who may be supporting him.

“I have sent a request and reinforcements have arrived today (Sunday) to help us with manpower,” Chief Superintendent Gideon said.

He said criminals were recruiting men throughout the province to fight against the government agencies who were against them, recruiting from as far as Normanby Island, Fergusson Island, Misima Island, Rabaraba and few other districts, including Alotau.

High powered guns
“They are coming in big numbers with high powered guns and ammunitions, our firearms cannot contain these people, it looked like they are getting firearms from another place and coming to attack the people.”

He said so far 11 remandees had been taken in last week, with 20 others detained in police cells expected to be brought into the prison this week.

He said the prison officers were intact and working 24 hours and had planned their emergency attack approaches, exit routes for families and how to go about reporting if anything happened.

He said police were constantly patrolling the entire township and along the highway while focusing their concentration in the town because of the government properties.

Marjorie Finkeo is a PNG Post-Courier reporter.

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