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Pakistan Taliban Release Video Boast Of Jailbreak


A screen grab from the YouTube video by Taliban faction Tehrek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) around the April 15 prison break in Bannu, northwestern Pakistan.

A screen grab from the YouTube video by Taliban faction Tehrek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) around the April 15 prison break in Bannu, northwestern Pakistan.

The Tehrek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the largest Taliban faction in Pakistan, has issued a video in which the group brags of pulling off the largest prison break in Pakistani history.

Called "a memorable attack on Bannu Central Jail," the 34-minute video shows how the Taliban planned and executed last month's sophisticated early morning attack on the sprawling prison on the outskirts of Bannu. The city borders the restive North Waziristan tribal district in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and has been frequently targeted by the Taliban.

Some 400 prisoners, including 200 Taliban members, escaped from the prison after scores of heavily armed militants attacked the site early on April 15. The escapees included 22 prisoners on death row. Most were convicted of terrorism-related crimes.

The video prominently features Adnan Rasheed, a former Pakistani Air Force technician who was on death row in Bannu prison after he was convicted for his part in planning sophisticated assassination attacks on former President General Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.

The video shows him being greeted by Taliban fighters in an unknown location. In an interview, he assures imprisoned TTP members they will soon be freed through similar attacks.

The video features a masked instructor explaining the attack plan to a large group of long-haired militants with the help of hand-drawn maps. The militants apparently had detailed information about the layout of the prison.

The group is then shown arriving at the prison in vans. In the ensuing attack, militants armed with mines, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and Kalashnikov rifles meet little resistance from the prison guards. They use only one antitank mine to blow up the prison gate.

The video then shows militants breaking prison cell locks with hammers and gunshots as the prisoners shout in joy. Some of the freed Taliban prisoners are then shown mingling in groups at an unknown location in the tribal areas.

Hakimullah Mehsud, the fugitive leader of the TTP, makes a speech to supporters promising that the group will keep on fighting the Pakistani government to the "last bullet and the last man."

Meanwhile, the provincial government has yet to offer a full account of the brazen jailbreak. Bashir Bilour, a senior minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that an inquiry into the incident was under way. He said the authorities had already demoted senior police and administration officials over the security lapse.

He called it "a failure of the intelligence agencies," adding: "It shows the weakness of our government and the federal government. We are not going to hide it, like others. We are going to speak the whole truth."

-- Abubakar Siddique
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