Taliban storm Pak jail,free nearly 250 inmates

Nearly 250 prisoners escaped after a massive attack on one of the main prisons in northwestern Pakistan

Written by New York Times | Peshawar | Published: July 31, 2013 12:43:57 am

ISMAIL KHAN

Nearly 250 prisoners escaped after a massive attack on one of the main prisons in northwestern Pakistan on Monday night,a senior security official said.

Authorities imposed a curfew in the city of Dera Ismail Khan,in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province,after the overnight attack on the 100-year-old central prison there,which had held more than 500 prisoners. All roads leading to neighbouring restive tribal regions of North and South Waziristan were blocked and a search has begun,officials said,adding that six prisoners had been recaptured.

“The attackers have melted away in the population,” one official said.

Shahidullah Shahid,a spokesman for the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan,said around 150 fighters took part in the attack and that they freed 200 inmates. He said two militant fighters were killed in the attack.

In the attack,more than 100 militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy arms rode in on motorbikes and vehicles and then blasted the prison walls and broke open locks on cells,freeing 243 prisoners,including 30 militants,the security official said.

“They used megaphones to call names of their comrades in the lock-ups and then broke up their cells using explosives devices,” the official said.

Thirteen people were killed in the attack,which began around 11 pm and continued for three hours,the official said. “There are explosives littered around the compound,” the official said.

Four policemen and five civilians were among the dead. Four prisoners who belonged to the minority Shia sect were also identified and killed by militants,the official said. Another 13 people were injured in the attack.

A senior security official said before the attack,information had been passed to the district administration,security forces and jail authorities about an imminent attack and that a conference had been held to assess the prison’s security.

“The attack was so sudden and big,” the official said. “Probably,no one suspected it was around the corner. No security measures could be put in place to pre-empt it.”

“This is a debacle of the highest order,” said a senior government official. “We had timely intelligence and senior district administration and security officials had visited the central prison to check security. Still this debacle?”

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