Communist World News

Taliban Raid Causes 400 Prisoners To Escape

In Asia on April 15, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Bannu, Pakistan —  Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as “very dangerous” insurgents, authorities and the militants said.

Pakistan’s al Qaeda-linked Taliban movement, which has close links to al Qaeda, said its fighters mounted the assault, which triggered clashes. Several people were wounded.

“We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way,” a Taliban spokesman said.

While the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan have staged several jailbreaks, such operations are rare in Pakistan, one of the most unstable countries in the
world.

A police official said most of the escapees from the jail in the northwestern town of Bannu were militants.

“I don’t remember the exact time, but it must have been way past midnight. There were huge explosions. Plaster from the ceilings fell on us,” said prisoner Malik Nazeef, speaking by mobile phone from the jail in the town of Bannu.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Taliban Movement of Pakistan, is seen as the biggest threat, staging suicide bombings and shootings in a drive to impose its harsh version of Islam in the nuclear-armed country.

The attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at the black, metal gates of the prison, blowing them open. Debris was strewn on the ground inside, including locks that were shot off doors. Walls were pockmarked with bullet holes.

An assault of this scale will likely generate fresh questions over Pakistan’s progress in fighting militancy since joining the U.S.-led campaign against militancy, launched after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Pakistan’s performance has come under more intense scrutiny since U.S. special forces in May last year found Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani town, where he had apparently been living for years, and killed him in a secret raid.

– Viktor

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