July 30, 2013

More Than 240 Prisoners Freed in Brazen Attack by the Pakistani Taliban

Bailey Cahall  |  AfPak Channel  | Around 243 prisoners, including 30 "hardcore militants," escaped from the heavily guarded Central Prison in the city of Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province on Monday night when more than 100 militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy arms attacked the facility.  The highly coordinated assault began when the attackers blew up the prison's electricity line, detonated bombs they had planted around the facility to breach its external wall, and opened fire on the prison's security forces.  According to multiple reports, around 70 of the militants were in police uniforms, and they used megaphones to call out to specific prisoners, freeing them from their cells with hand grenades.  At least 14 people were killed in the attack, including six policemen and six Shi'a prisoners whose throats were slashed by the gunmen. 

Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, contacted multiple news agencies to claim responsibility for the assault, which comes a little more than a year after the group attacked the Central Jail in Bannu and freed about 400 prisoners.  Dera Ismail Khan and the neighboring town of Tank have been placed under a curfew while a search operation for the escaped prisoners continues.  Those released include Abdul Hakim and Haji Illyas, two local Taliban commanders, as well as Waleed Akbar, a sectarian militant suspected of killing Shi'a mourners during an attack last year. 

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