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UK vows to track down fugitive terror suspect

The UK justice minister on Thursday vowed to hunt down a former soldier awaiting trial on terrorism charges who escaped from jail a day earlier.

Daniel Abed Khalife likely fled from Wandsworth prison in south London on Wednesday morning by clinging to the bottom of a delivery van.

His disappearance triggered a major manhunt, with extra security checks introduced at ports and airports amid fears the 21-year-old may try to flee the country. 

"Daniel Khalife will be found and he will be made to face justice," UK Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told the lower house of parliament.

Chalk said "local contingency plans for an unaccounted prisoner" were activated shortly after the departure of a vehicle making a delivery to the prison's kitchen at around 7:30 am on Wednesday. 

"Strapping was found underneath the vehicle which appeared to indicate that Daniel Khalife may have held onto the underside of it in order to escape," Chalk said. 

Khalife was reported to have been working in the prison kitchen and was wearing a white T-shirt and red and white chequered trousers when he absconded.

Chalk announced an independent investigation into the escape and also ordered urgent reviews into the categorisation and placement of everyone held at Wandsworth prison and all those in custody with terror offences.

Rosena Allin-Khan, a lawmaker for the main opposition Labour party, told parliament that conditions for staff at Wandsworth prison are "unworkable and unsafe".

Khalife appeared in court in London on January 28 and was remanded in custody over two incidents at the Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Stafford, central England, near the army barracks where he lived.

He is accused of "attempting to elicit information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" in August 2021. 

He was also charged with a bomb hoax by placing a suspect device at the RAF base on January 2 this year.

His trial had been set to begin on November 13.