Taliban free 384 inmates in Pakistan

The New York Times reports: In what is being called the biggest jailbreak in Pakistani history, Taliban fighters stormed a prison in the northwestern town of Bannu early Sunday, freeing almost 400 prisoners, including a militant commander who tried in 2003 to assassinate the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

The assault started at 1:30 a.m. when at least 100 militants driving pickup trucks and armed with grenades and small arms attacked the main gate of the prison, which housed 900 inmates, provincial government officials said.

After blasting their way into the prison, the attackers broke open cell doors and freed 384 inmates, including several who had been condemned to death, said Mohammad Azam Khan, the home minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

A senior security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said prison guards had offered little resistance to the Taliban, who were in “total control” of the facility for over two hours. “The militants asked them to get aside and leave,” he said.

The fierce, disciplined raid represented an operational boost and a propaganda coup for the Pakistani Taliban, which wasted little time in claiming responsibility.

“We have released our men without losing a single man,” said Ihsanullah Ihsan, a spokesman for the group, speaking from an undisclosed location. “We had been planning this blessed operation for months.”

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