Hundreds of prisoners escaped from a jail in Afghanistan’s south yesterday through a tunnel dug by Taliban insurgents, officials said, a “disaster” for the Afghan government and a setback for foreign forces planning to start a gradual withdrawal within months.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s chief spokesman, Waheed Omer, told a news conference the incident, in which many Taliban commanders were said to have escaped, exposed serious vulnerabilities in the Afghan government.
Tooryalai Wesa, governor of volatile southern Kandahar province, told Reuters that 488 prisoners escaped due to the negligence of Afghan security forces at the province’s main jail. He said the tunnel led to a nearby house.
General Ghulam Dastgir, the governor in charge of the jail, said the prisoners had all escaped through the tunnel. “The insurgents worked on it for some seven months,” Dastgir said.
“The Taliban have planted bombs inside the tunnel and it is hard to investigate until the explosives are removed,” he said.