Prison break Taliban-style: hundreds escape jail in Pakistan

Death row prisoners escape after brazen, two-hour raid by heavily-armed militants

Militants in Pakistan carried out a brazen strike against the security forces in the early hours of yesterday morning – launching a two-hour long attack on a jail and releasing almost 400 inmates.

The authorities were last night trying to trace at least 380 prisoners, among them many militants, who fled after dozens of Taliban fighters carried out a sustained attack on the jail in the town on Bannu, close to Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area.

Despite the duration of the attack, the prison guards apparently received no back-up from the military.

"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 told Reuters.

Reports said that anywhere up to 100 fighters were involved in the attack that began sometime before dawn, and were equipped with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

Having breached the walls of the jail, the militants apparently made their way to the section where prisoners who are on death row were held.

Their priority appears to have been securing the release of Adnan Rashid, who was in jail for his role in a failed assassination against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

For up to two hours the militants fought with the jail's guards before setting part of the jail on fire and releasing the inmates. Officials said 20 of those who escaped were considered particularly dangerous.

The incident will be a painful reminder of the enduring power and threat of the militants after a number of operations against them by the Pakistani military since 2007. The country's authorities have been repeatedly pressured by the US to do more to take on the Taliban and its al-Qa'ida allies, especially those involved in cross-border attacks inside Afghanistan.

The results have been mixed and the Pakistani military has shown little appetite to confront militants who are not a threat to the state.

Imtiaz Gul, an author and head of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think-tank, said the incident was a huge embarrassment that demanded a full investigation. He said it appeared that the militants had received inside information about the location of their jailed colleagues.

"This is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan. It's a huge embarrassment for the entire security apparatus," he said. "Militants always have the element of surprise on their side. But this also shows the lack of communication between the civilian and military bodies. This went on for two hours and the army or paramilitaries should have had time to get there."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Negotiator - OTE £24,000

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic individual is r...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?