Eight Islamist radicals who escaped from Bhopal Central Jail in India were killed in an encounter with police around noon Monday, according to reports quoting Bhupendra Singh, the Home Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
Cornered, the activists of the banned Students Islamic Federation of India (SIMI) attacked the police with sharpened spoons and plates before being shot dead, the minister said.
In another version of events, however, Yogesh Chaudhury, Bhopal’s inspector general of police, was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying the prisoners actually opened fire on the police.
An investigation has been ordered and security has been beefed up at the jail. Five jail officials were suspended following the escape.
The eight activists escaped after killing a security guard and scaling a wall using a rope made of bed sheets early on Monday morning.
They killed head constable Ramashankar Yadav by slitting his throat with a steel plate and glass shards after overpowering him, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.
Diwali celebrations, including the noise of firecrackers throughout the city during the evening, acted as a distraction for the jailbreak.
The escapees had been jailed for various crimes including sedition and robbery. Three of them were involved in an earlier jailbreak in Khandwa, another city in Madhya Pradesh, in 2013.
SIMI was formed in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, in April 1977 with a mission to liberate India from Western influences and to make Muslim society follow the Quranic way of life.
The group was banned in 2001 shortly after the 9/11 attacks in the United States.