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Taliban break at least 480 out of prison

[ 2011-04-26 10:49]     字号 [] [] []  
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Taliban insurgents dug a more than 320-meter tunnel underground and into the main jail in Kandahar city and whisked out more than 480 prisoners, most of whom were Taliban fighters, officials and the insurgents said on Monday.

The massive jail-break overnight in Afghanistan's second-largest city serves as a reminder of the Afghan government's continuing weakness in the south, despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers. Kandahar city, in particular, has been a focus of the international effort to establish a strong Afghan government presence in former Taliban strongholds.

The 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison has been part of that plan. The facility has undergone security upgrades and tightened procedures following a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners. Afghan government officials and their NATO backers have regularly said that the prison has vastly improved security since that attack.

But on Sunday night, around 480 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel dug between the prison and the outside and disappeared into Kandahar city, prison supervisor Ghulam Dastagir Mayar said. He said the majority of the missing were Taliban militants.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said insurgents on the outside dug the 320-meter tunnel to the prison over five months, bypassing government checkpoints and major roads. The tunnel finally reached the prison cells on Sunday night, and the inmates were ushered through it to freedom by three prisoners who had been informed of the plan, Mujahid said.

He said that more than 500 inmates were freed, and that about 100 of them were Taliban commanders.

Four of those inmates who escaped were provincial-level Taliban commanders, said Qari Yousef Ahmadi, another Taliban spokesman.

The highest-profile Taliban inmates would likely not be held at Sarposa. The US keeps detainees it considers a threat at a facility outside of Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan. Other key Taliban prisoners are held by the Afghan government in a high-security wing of the main prison in Kabul.

A man who Taliban spokesmen said was one of the inmates who helped organize the escape from the inside said a group of inmates obtained copies of the keys to the cells ahead of time.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Taliban break at least 480 out of prison

About the broadcaster:

Taliban break at least 480 out of prison

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.