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November 25, 2020

Taliban free 243 in Dera Ismail Khan

Taliban militants have freed 243 prisoners in an assault on a prison in north-west Pakistan, officials say according to the BBC. The attack in the town of Dera Ismail Khan began with huge explosions at around midnight on Monday. Gunmen then opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns, police chief Sohail Khalid said. About 70 attackers were in police uniform. The town is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, next to Pakistan’s restive mountainous tribal region. The town’s prison houses hundreds of Taliban and militants from banned groups. Twelve people – including six police officers – were killed in the gun battle that raged for three or four hours after militants launched their assault.
Also released is a sectarian militant, Waleed Akbar, the principle suspect in last year’s attacks on Shia mourners in Dera Ismail Khan during the Shia mourning month of Moharram. Attackers used loudhailers to call the names of particular inmates, Mr Jadoon said. Fourteen fugitives were later re-arrested by police, he said. A curfew has now been imposed on Dera Ismail Khan as police hunt for the remaining escaped prisoners, but correspondents say this will be a difficult task as they flee into tribal areas.
Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid has claimed responsibility for the attack. He said around 300 prisoners had been freed. The authorities are reported to have received intelligence about an impending attack two weeks ago, but prison officials said they did not expect it to come so soon. The building is about a century old and officials say it was not constructed to house high-security prisoners. Hundreds of inmates were freed in an assault on a prison in Bannu in northern Pakistan in April last year.

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