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Massive prison break in Afghanistan

Latest update : 2008-06-13

Suspected Taliban militants blasted their way into a prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar late Friday, freeing hundreds of prisoners and killing two guards, officials said.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, June 13 (Reuters) - Taliban
insurgents blew open the gate of a main prison in the Afghan
city of Kandahar on Friday, allowing hundreds of prisoners
including suspected militants to escape, officials said.
 

Under cover of darkness, nearly all of an estimated 1,150
prisoners, including some 400 Taliban inmates, fled from the
jail, two officials in the southern city of Kandahar told
Reuters on condition of anonymity.
 

Another official said between 750 to 800 prisoners had
managed to escape, adding some prisoners were killed in a gun
battle between police and Taliban fighters who managed to get
inside the jail.
 

"I think scores of others are caught up inside," he said,
adding he suspected the gate was blown up by a suicide bomber
driving in a truck. Afterwards, several Taliban fighters entered
the prison and started freeing the inmates, he said.
 

The blast also caused an unknown number of casualties among
the guards, prison director Abdul Qadir told Reuters.
 

"They (Taliban) used a truck to blow the gate open and all
of the guards (at the gate) have been killed and are under
rubble," he said by telephone. As he spoke, bursts of gunfire
could be heard in the background.
 

The two officials who declined to be named said the Taliban
fired several rockets at various parts of the mud-built prison.
The province is a stronghold of the ousted Taliban movement.
 

Hours after the attack, several rockets hit a base used by
foreign troops in another part of the city, an official and
several residents said. Sirens were heard from inside the base,
they added, but no further details were immediately available.
 

The U.S. military has handed over an unspecified number of 
suspected Taliban fighters to Afghan custody under a programme
agreed last year to transfer all Afghan prisoners from U.S.
detention.
 

The U.S. military has arrested thousands of suspected
Taliban and al Qaeda militants since invading Afghanistan in
2001 and helping topple the Taliban government.

Date created : 2008-06-13

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