Three inmates escaped in a rare jailbreak in China’s northeast after killing a guard early Tuesday morning, state media reported. The escape at from Yanshou county jail outside the city of Harbin took place about 6 a.m. Tuesday (2200 GMT Monday), according to a report on the website of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper.
Police are searching for the fugitives with armed patrols, it said. The men were awaiting trial, but the report did not say on what charges. The three donned police jackets and shirts as they left the jail, the report said. No other details were given and a guard who answered the jail’s phone said he was not permitted to answer questions, while calls to the county’s Communist Party propaganda office rang unanswered.
Chinese jails and prisons are run along strict lines and escapes are extremely rare. China imprisons a far smaller percentage of its population than the U.S. _ 118 per 100,000 people compared to America’s 737 per 100,000. However, punishments are often harsh and China is believed to execute more people for crimes each year than the rest of the world combined.