Afghan Taliban storm jail, release hundreds of prisoners
Taliban insurgents stormed a mud fort being used as a prison in Afghanistan on Monday killing policemen and releasing more than 400 inmates.
Officials said that the insurgents also attacked troops who came to the rescue of the policemen.
The latest Taliban prison raid, on the outskirts of the central city of Ghazni, comes after setbacks for the government in different parts of the country and deadly attacks in Kabul which have dashed hopes for peace talks.
Mohammed Ali Ahmadi, Deputy City Governor, said that out of the 400 prisoners that escaped, about 80 had been recaptured and 352 were on the run, including about 150 Taliban.
Ahmadi noted that seven Taliban and four members of the security forces were killed in the attack.
“Roads to the prison were covered with land mines in advance to avoid reinforcement.
“An army vehicle coming for reinforcements was blown up by a roadside bomb while trying to reach the prison,’’ he said.
The governor said that the prison did not have heavy security because it was so close to Ghazni – only seven km (4.3 miles) from the city centre – and it was believed that reinforcements would get there quickly in the event of trouble.
One security official said the attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles, were wearing Afghan security force uniforms.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid while taking responsibility for the attack said that gunmen and three suicide bombers attacked the prison at 2 a.m. (2200 GMT Sunday).
“Three bombers were killed while 40 Afghan security forces and prison guards were killed in the prison break.
“Some important military mujahideen officials have been freed,’’ Mujahid said, referring to Islamist fighters.
The Taliban often exaggerate casualty tolls in statements about their attacks.
The Taliban are fighting to overthrow the foreign-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, expel foreign forces from Afghanistan and impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The insurgents have on several occasions attacked jails to free hundreds of prisoners, including their comrades in both Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.