Pakistan Prison Break Frees 250

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 30 2013 11:08 AM

Taliban Prison Break Frees 250 in Pakistan

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Pakistani policemen stand guard outside the Central Prison after an overnight armed Taliban militant attack in Dera Ismail Khan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on July 30, 2013

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 250 prisoners are on the loose after heavily-armed Taliban fighters, disguised as police, attacked one of the main prisons in northwestern Pakistan last night. The massive attack began when a group of 150 militants stormed the jail with bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, and heavy arms on motorbikes and vehicles, blasting prison walls open and breaking locks on cells, according to officials. Here's Reuters with more details of the great escape:

As the attack unfolded, gunmen blew up electricity lines to the prison and detonated bombs to breach the outer walls. They fought their way inside using rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, and called the names of Taliban prisoners they wanted to release through loud speakers. Once inside, attackers shot open most of the locks and used bombs to blast their way deep into the prison, shouting "All the locks are broken! Those who want to escape, now is your chance," prison officials who were there at the time told Reuters.
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Eight of the attackers wore suicide vests, and two detonated their explosives, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told the Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location. Officials are saying at least a dozen people died during the siege.

Roughly three dozen suspected militants were freed during the attack. Strangely enough, regional officers had already received intel that such an attack was imminent, but for some reason there was no preparation it. As Reuters notes, officials may not have known it was coming so soon — or,  perhaps the carefully planned attack was facilitated by insider informants.

Jennifer Lai is an associate editor at Slate.

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