MANILA, Philippines -- Armed inmates protesting prison conditions seized 15 people including a child and an Australian missionary during a Bible study at the Davao city jail and demanded a getaway helicopter, police and news reports said Monday.
At one point, a police officer identified as Rolando Ariaga was wounded when the inmates opened fire on a crowd that gathered outside the prison compound in downtown Davao, police said.
Col. Franco Calida, police chief in Davao 600 miles south of Manila, said he was negotiating for the release of the 15 hostages taken at 4:20 p.m. Sunday during a Bible study conducted by missionaries of a group calling itself the Joyful Assembly of God.
Most of the hostages were Filipino missionaries, but one was a 9-year-old boy. There was no immediate explanation for the presence of the boy.
The Australian missionary was identified in news reports as Jackie Hamille, but the Australian Embassy in Manila said it was trying to verify the report.
A civilian Moslem negotiator who identified himself only as Sayadi said by telephone from police headquarters in Davao that there were about 30 inmates in the revolt who were armed with six automatic rifles and knives.
A radio report Monday said the inmates were demanding to talk to House of Representatives Speaker Ramon Mitra and Moslem Sen. Santanina Rasul to discuss jail conditions. It said the inmates also wanted a helicopter to fly them out to the remote island of Jolo, which is in Rasul's constituency.
'If my service is needed, I am always available,' Rasul said. She said she was talking to Mitra and would like to study the situation first.
Police said last April, the same inmates took about a dozen people as hostages to protest conditions at a penal colony on the outskirts of Davao and demanded transfer to the national prison outside Manila. The prisoners were moved to the Davao city jail instead.