Taliban militants storm prison, free almost 400
Taliban militants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades battled their way into a prison in Northwest Pakistan yesterday freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as "very dangerous" insurgents.
The raid by more than 100 fighters was a dramatic display of the strength of the insurgency gripping the nuclear-armed country.
The escaped prisoners may now rejoin the fight, giving momentum and a propaganda boost to a movement that has killed thousands of Pakistani officials and ordinary citizens since 2007.
The attackers stormed the prison before dawn in a city close to the Afghan border and used explosives and hand grenades to knock down the main gates and two walls.
Once inside the building, the attackers headed straight to the area of the prison where death-row prisoners were being kept.
They fought with guards for around two hours, setting part of the prison on fire before freeing the 380 inmates.
Provincial police chief Akbar Hoti said authorities suspected the militants may have had inside help from prison officials.
CAPTION: Pakistani security officials visit the central jail in Bannu, 170 kilometer (106 miles) south of Peshawar, Pakistan, on Sunday, April 15, 2012. Taliban militants battled their way into a prison in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, freeing close to 400 prisoners, including at least 20 described by police as "very dangerous" insurgents, authorities and the militants said.