Masked group aids escape

03.Feb.03,  first published by read the original article here.

About five people wearing balaclavas have helped asylum seekers escape from the Woomera detention centre, attacking and injuring two security officers.

Port Augusta police inspector James Blandford said four or five people had helped six detainees break out from the South Australian complex about 1.15am (ACDT).

They then fled in two cars.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said the group who helped the asylum seekers escape centre attacked officers with tyre levers and tried to drive over them.

Mr Ruddock said three escapees were from Iran, two from Afghanistan and one from Iraq.

He said all six were single, one was aged in his 30s while the others were in their 20s.

Mr Ruddock said a small group of people wearing balaclavas had premeditated the escape and used a large car jack to open fencing to reach the detainees.

"Those aiding and abetting the escape attempted to drive over detention officers as they were trying to constrain the escape," he told reporters.

"The report I've read says that one of the detention officers was attacked around the legs with a tyre lever.

"Another was hit in the chest with a similar implement. "This was premeditated, very deliberate."

Insp Blandford said the detainees left Woomera in two cars, a blue Ford station wagon and a white four-wheel drive.

"We are pretty sure from information that we've received that certainly the white troop carrier was seen travelling south towards Port Augusta," he told ABC radio.

"It comes across as a very well planned and executed event where the detainees were provided assistance to escape the lawful detention up at Woomera."

Insp Blandford said road blocks were in place on main highways, with officers stopping vehicles and asking the public for assistance.

"If they should see anything strange or untoward in regards to these detainees, or vehicles on the highways, searches will be mounted on the off-chance they've actually gone off the road into the bush," he said.

"I'd plead with anybody who may have information or may know the whereabouts or the plans of the detainees or the people that assisted them to come forward and help us find them and make sure that they're safe and well.

"If they've not well supplied with water or shelter or food, being out in the far north regions with the temperatures soaring certainly causes us some concerns in regards to their welfare, regardless of the consequences or the actions of actually leaving the custody of the detention centre.

"Our main concern is to find them safe and well and to ensure that we don't have any tragedies."