Pak jail break: Four senior officials removed, probe ordered
Authorities today removed four senior officials over the escape of 384 prisoners in a jailbreak in Pakistan's restive northwest and launched a probe to find out whether militants who attacked the prison had any link to the Taliban siege in Afghanistan.
The probe will also look into reports that militants may have had inside help. Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province removed a city commissioner, the provincial inspector general of prisons, a deputy jail superintendent and a deputy inspector general of police over the jailbreak.
The prisoners escaped after hundreds of Taliban fighters attacked the Central Jail at Bannu before dawn yesterday. Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, blamed the incident on a "total failure of intelligence agencies".
A five-member committee had been set up to investigate the matter, he told a news conference in Peshawar. The militants came to the jail in dozens of vehicles, were inside the prison for over two hours and were able to escape unchallenged, Hussain said.
Information Minister Hussain said authorities had also noted that the jailbreak coincided with multiple attacks by the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. Over 35 militants were killed across Afghanistan as security forces regained control of Kabul 18 hours after the Taliban assault, which left 11 security personnel and four civilians dead.
Hussain said "the committee will try to find out whether the jailbreak in Pakistan, which was claimed by the local Taliban, had any link to the attacks in Afghanistan"
Officials had earlier said the main objective of the militants was to free Adnan Rashid, a former junior technician of the Pakistan Air Force who was sentenced to death by a military court for his role in an attempt to assassinate former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2003.
More than 30 death row prisoners and several foreign fighters were among those escaped. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack on the jail outside Bannu town, which is located near the lawless tribal belt.
A Taliban commander told the media that the attackers had inside help, and officials said investigators were looking into this aspect of the jailbreak. Police officials 53 of the 384 prisoners who escaped from the jail had returned voluntarily while 11 more were arrested.
The attack began at 1:30 am, local time, yesterday and continued for two hours. Militants who came to the jail in cars and pick-up trucks used explosives to destroy the main gate and then exchanged fire with policemen inside.
Reports said the policemen ran out of ammunition and were unable to engage the attackers for long. The Home Department of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa sent a preliminary investigation report on the jailbreak to the federal Interior Ministry that blamed the police and intelligence agencies for the incident, Geo News channel reported.
According to the report, at least 150 militants came to the jail in 25 vehicles and remained at the prison for two hours. Though there are three police stations in the vicinity, additional police forces did not reach the prison on time, the report said.