(ISLAMABAD) — Hundreds of dangerous militants are on the loose in northwestern Pakistan after Taliban militants freed them Sunday from a prison in the town of Bannu.
Described as the biggest jailbreak in the country’s history, the Taliban was able to blast through the front gate and free 386 inmates with virtually no resistance from prison guards. The installation houses about 900 captives, some of them on death row.
Boasting about it afterwards, a Taliban spokesman said, “We have released our men without losing a single man. We had been planning this blessed operation for months.”
Among those freed was a former military commander sentenced to die for the 2003 assassination attempt on the life of one-time President Pervez Musharraf.
By nightfall, only about 11 inmates had been rounded up, with about two dozen electing to return to the jail voluntarily.
It’s believed that most of the escapees wound up in North Waziristan where the Taliban and al Qaeda have held sway for years. It’s also where most Taliban militants regroup before crossing over into Afghanistan to fight the war in that country.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN