Taliban frees 250 Pak prisoners

PESHAWAR, July 30:In a brazen attack, heavily-armed Taliban terrorists, donning police uniforms, attacked a high-security prison in northwest Pakistan, freeing nearly 250 prisoners, many of them hard-core militants, and killing 14 people including six Shia inmates.
The gunmen launched their attack around midnight with a series of heavy explosions before firing rocket propelled grenades and machine guns, a senior police official said.
During the attack on Central Prison in Dera Ismail Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering the restive South Waziristan agency, the militants killed six policemen, six Shia prisoners and two private security guards, he said.
“Five more policemen and two civilian were injured in the attack,” said deputy commissioner Amir Khattak.
Commissioner of Dera Ismail Khan Mushtaq Jadoon said 243 prisoners have managed to escape and added that 14 have been re-arrested.
Six of them were re-arrested during the night operation while eight were picked up in the morning from different localities during search operation.
Curfew has been clamped in the areas where search operation was underway.
Meanwhile, new Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid has accepted responsibility for the attack. Speaking to Dawn daily, he said that around 100 militants took part in the attack including a number of suicide bombers among them.
He said the TTP has achieved their targets and their operation was successful.
The prison houses Taliban and militants from banned sectarian groups. According to the jail authorities, there are at least 5000 prisoners in the Central Jail Dera Ismail Khan which is near the bordering town of Tank adjacent to volatile South Waziristan Agency, the headquarter of the TTP and al- Qaeda militants.
“We lost two of our men in the fight,” Taliban spokesman said adding that the militants have achieved their targets and their operation was successful.
The attack came just hours before the country began voting for a new President.
Shaukat Yousafzai, spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial Government, said, “the army has been called in to counter the militant attack.” However, Yousafzai said he has no information of the prisoners’ escape.
Advisor to Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa Chief Minister for Jail Malik Qasim said the militants under the guise of police uniform first blown up the main transmission, plunging the entire area in to darkness and then launched massive attack with rockets and hand grenade.
Residents in Dera Ismail Khan heard over 20 explosions near the prison. A curfew was imposed in the city as a search operation continued to apprehend the escaped fugitives.
In April 2012, Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in the city of Bannu in northwest Pakistan, freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as “very dangerous” insurgents. (PTI)


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