Some inmates escape, army called in Militants storm jail in D.I. Khan

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: July 29: Militants stormed one of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa`s oldest and largest central jails in the city close to midnight on Monday with rockets and heavy weapons and unconfirmed reports said they succeeded in breaking the prison wall and helping some of their jailed colleagues escape.

The British-era central prison located close to Dawn`s district correspondent`s office has the capacity to house thousands of inmates and had around 250 militants affiliated to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.

Militants attacked the prison with rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns, leading to a series of deafening sounds of bomb explosions and staccato of gunfire.

There were between 30 and 40 explosions.

It was not immediately clear if suicide bombers were also involved in the attack. But the explosions continued for some time amid reports that jail guards did return fire to protect the prison.

A senior security official told Dawn in Peshawar on phone from Dera Ismail Khan that militants had attacked the prison and that the military and police had been called in to secure the area.

The security official quoting eye witnesses said that around 40 militants had attacked the prison located in the middle of the city in a thickly-populated area. He said witnesses claimed having seen some prisoners escape. `Firing is continuing,` the official said. `Yes, some prisoners have escaped,` he added.

`But we wouldn`t know the exact number unless we secure the prison and do a head-count.

Unconfirmed reports said the military was trying to get closer to the prison and secure it but it was not clear if they had managed to get inside the prison compound.

The attack came a day after some inmates inside the prison snatched rifles from guards and escaped. The district police officer later acknowledged the escape but claimed that all 10 of those who had escaped had been recaptured.

Dera Ismail Khan sits close to the restive South Waziristan tribal region bifurcated by the semi-autonomous Frontier Region Jandola.

This is the second large-scale attack by militants on central jail in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Militants had attacked central prison in neighbouring Bannu district in April last year, freeing hundreds of inmates, including Adnan Rashid, a former Pakistan Air Force official and mastermind behind the assassination attempt on former president Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Adnan has since joined the TTP and is believed to be in North Waziristan heading a group called Ansarul Aseer.

He had released a video early this year, pledging to free all militants held in Pakistani prisons and made target jail officials for their `inhuman` treatment.

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