106 Prisoners were insurgent commanders: Taliban
KANDAHAR CITY - Two of the 488 political prisoners, who escaped after the Taliban tunneled into the high-security Kandahar Central Jail early Monday morning, were killed and 24 others rearrested, officials said.
Hundreds of prisoners, many of them militants, fled the jail in Kandahar City through a 360-metre-long tunnel dug by the fighters, Governor Toryalai Weesa told a news conference. The passage linked a nearby house in the Sarpuza area to a cell of political prisoners.
"A tunnel like this can't be dug up in a week or a month; the Taliban worked on it for many months," the governor remarked, saying the daring escape had triggered a security boost and a search for the fugitives.
Only one of the fleeing men was a criminal, he said, urging the people to cooperate with the government in catching the rest of the escapees for the sake of peace in the province.
Five of the escapees were caught in a house in the Muhallajat area, on the outskirts of provincial capital, said the 404th Maiwand Police Zone Commander Maj. Gen. Salim Ehsas. Two of the armed men were killed after they showed resistance.
All the escapees would be re-arrested, because they had been biometrically scanned, the police commander hoped.
But the Taliban said that 541 inmates had been released from the prison, where 12,000 individual were being held. Of those freed, 106 were insurgent commanders, their spokesman said. Only three inmates had prior knowledge of the plan.
"The mujahedeen who participated in this operation hailed it as a huge success. The authorities had no idea of that we were conducting this operation," Qari Yousaf Ahmadi said in a statement.
The underground tunnel, bypassing police check posts and the Kandahar-Kabul highway, was completed late on Sunday night.
The latest jailbreak comes after years of security upgrades and tightened procedures at the prison following a 2008 Taliban attack that led to 900 inmates, including 400 fighters, fleeing.
In 2008, dozens of guerrillas on motorbikes and two suicide bombers targeted the prison. One bomber set off an explosives-laden truck at the prison gate while a second blew up an escape route through a back wall. (Pajhwok)