540 Taliban militants flee Kandahar jail

Press TV – April 25, 2011

At least 540 Taliban militants, including 106 commanders, have escaped from Kandahar central prison in southern Afghanistan, an official says.

According to Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, 541 Taliban prisoners managed to escape from Kandahar prison early Monday. He said 106 of them are key Taliban commanders, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The Prisoners had dug a 360-meter-long tunnel under the prison’s ground, which took them over six months to complete it, the spokesman further explained.

“Prisoners dug a 360-metre-long tunnel to the south of the prison,” Ahmadi pointed out.

“They started getting out of the prison at 11:00 p.m. (1830 GMT) last night and by early morning today, 541 prisoners escaped the prison,” he added.

“They all have made it safe to our centers and there was no fighting,” he went on to say.

The Taliban militants’ escape was also confirmed by the prison director, General Ghulam Dastageer Mayar.

The Kandahar provincial governor’s office said in a statement that “a number” of the prisoners had since been recaptured without giving exact figures. A search was under way for the rest of the escapees, the statement added.

Local governmental officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that they have managed to capture only eight of the Taliban escapees.

Taliban claim that the move was pre-planned and that Taliban vehicles had been waiting for the prisoners at the end of the tunnel somewhere outside the prison.

In 2008, about 1,000 prisoners, including Taliban militants, managed to escape from Kandahar prison after the Taliban used a truck bomb to blow open the gates.

Over 150,000 US-led forces are currently stationed in war-torn Afghanistan, 30,000 of whom are deployed in the southern Taliban heartlands of Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

The NATO and US forces have failed to establish security and stability in the war-wrecked country as they have repeatedly vowed.

AO/HRF

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