Two of the four gunmen who assassinated U.S. Army Col. James Rowe last month were communist guerrilla hit men who had escaped from police custody, a military chief told a legislative inquiry Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Aquirre said the two suspects, identified by witnesses, were members of a guerrilla assassination squad known as the Sparrows and "had escaped before." He did not reveal their names or how they escaped.Rowe, a heavily decorated Vietnam war veteran from McAllen, Texas, was gunned down by four masked men who sprayed a fusillade of bullets at his car as he was being driven to his office at the Joint U.S.-Manila Assistance Group in a Manila suburb.