Forty-nine leftist guerrillas, including several accused of taking part in a bloody assassination attempt on military President Augusto Pinochet three years ago, made a daring breakout from a Santiago jail Tuesday.
The guerrillas, all but one of them from the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front guerrilla group, escaped after tunneling 80 yards under the central city prison to come up inside an abandoned railway station.
Seven of the fugitives were later recaptured, including one guerrilla who got stuck in the exit of the 20-inch-square tunnel through which the prisoners made their dramatic escape.
Police sources described the tunnel as “a real work of engineering” equipped with lighting, ventilation and carts on runners to remove the earth.
Among the prisoners were seven Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front members accused of taking part in the assassination attempt in September, 1986. Pinochet escaped unharmed, but five of his bodyguards were killed.
The seven face possible death sentences for the attack.
Police stopped and searched cars leaving the capital and intensified partrols in working-class districts of Santiago in the hunt for the escapees.
The escape came just six weeks before President-elect Patricio Aylwin takes office as Chile’s first civilian president since the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power.