ISLAMABAD, April 15: In one of the brazen attack on a jail in Bannu district adjacent to North Waziristan Agency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, hordes of suspected Taliban militants enabled about 400 prisoners to flee after they stormed it with guns and rocket propelled grenades.
According to police officials, the pre-dawn attack by more than 100 fighters seemed to be well planned which could not be resisted by scant deployment of police force.
The attackers during brief and swift attack used explosives and hand grenades to blow away the main gates and two walls and also took away few notorious militants belonging to their ranks, Prison superintendent Zahud Khan told media.
Their prime target was the death cell where death-row prisoners were being kept. They fought with guards for around two hours, setting part of the prison on fire before freeing the 380 inmates, including at least 20 very dangerous Taliban militants, the official informed.
One of the prisoners who escaped from jail was on death row for his involvement in an assassination attempt on former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf. A jail inmate identified as Adnan Rasheed, a resident of Swabi, was a mastermind of Musharraf’s attack in Rawalpindi, said the official.
Provincial cop chief Muhammad Akbar Hoti says that militants’ aim was to set their accomplice Adnan Rasheed free. In media interaction, after visiting the Bannu jail, he says that a total of 21 prisoners on death row, were among the 400 who escaped.
Hoti also informs that 100 prisoners, however, returned voluntarily after the police contingents rushed to the prison which presented a war ravaged building.
The top police authority says security has been beefed up at other prisons across the province.
Meanwhile, one of Bannu jail-break prisoner who returned back, informs that the at least 400-500 heavily armed attackers had stormed the jail.
An eye witness says there were at least fifty fast-moving four-wheeled vehicles packed with militants sporting long hair and speaking Urdu language.
Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. A Taliban spokesman Asimullah Mehsud claimed that they had freed their comrades in Bannu jail.
After military led a successful operation in South Waziristan resulting in the expulsion of militants loyal to slain leader Baitullah Mehsud, the militants were reported to have taken refuge in other tribal agencies including the adjoining North Waziristan Agency, bordering Afghanistan.
The militants from these agencies often target the civil administered districts falling in closer proximity. For quite some time, the militants have renewed their fearful activities once again as according to media reports; the law and order situation in districts Tank, DIKhan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat has been on the wane with repeated incidents of murders, abduction for ransom and threats to NGOs personnel.