Taliban claims responsibility for Afghan jail blast

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The Independent Online

A blast with smuggled-in explosives at a prison in western Afghanistan killed a guard and allowed 11 inmates to escape early today, officials said. One prisoner was shot and killed while fleeing.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the jailbreak, saying it freed insurgent comrades being held there.

The explosives detonated shortly after 2am, destroying a gate and allowing 23 prisoners to flee the building, Farah province's deputy governor, Yonus Rasouli, said. One prisoner died and three were wounded in an ensuing gun battle with guards. Eight other inmates were recaptured, but 11 escaped.

General Abdul Makhtar, deputy for Afghanistan's prison department, said one guard was killed.

"The prisoners managed somehow to bring explosives inside the prison," Rasouli said. "It was a strong explosion. Everything was set up from inside the prison."

The Farah prison held a mix of suspected insurgents and common criminals because the province has no funds to build separate detention facilities, Rasouli said.

He said 347 prisoners were being held in a building meant for only 86. He acknowledged that conditions were poor at many prisons around the country, but said there was no money to build better facilities.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Amadi sent a message to reporters today taking responsibility for the jailbreak, saying "all of our mujahedeen" were freed and claiming 15 prison guards were killed.

In June 2008, the Taliban staged a sophisticated jailbreak that freed nearly 900 prisoners in the southern city of Kandahar.

One suicide bomber detonated a tanker truck full of explosives at the Kandahar prison gate, while a second bomber blasted an escape route through a back wall. Dozens of militants on motorbikes then attacked the jail.



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