At around 1 am on Sunday morning, about ‘400-500’ (media reports), around 150 (Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar), heavily armed men stormed into a heavy guarded Bannu jail and freed 384 inmates out of the total number of 944, including one inmate, Adnan Rashid, on death row for the assassination attempt on former president Gen Pervez Musharraf. The attackers engaged the prison guards and police for two hours and even used rocket-propelled grenades. And they managed to escape without any casualties – leaving several questions in the minds of the authorities about the level of their training and the equipment they have.
The most interestingly point of this whole incident wasn’t that the attackers (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack) freed the inmates, they have done that before in Afghanistan last year, but that before the day was over more than 100 prisoners returned! And what is astonishing is that they did so of their own free will! This could only happen in Pakistan!
These inmates should be given medals for their honesty and integrity. Keeping the state of prisons in our country, amongst other things, in mind, these men sure had the ‘nerve’ to return. They came back…seriously, such integrity and honesty is seldom seen in this land, which is why it has really shocked. These men could have easily slipped away and faded into the populace undetected; in a country where everyone is trying to obstruct the process of law and is trying to evade it for crimes they committed who would have asked any questions.
Then why did these men return to be imprisoned once again. I believe this incident will probably go down as a novelty in the history of jailbreaks, and should be investigated…seriously, it’s amazing. These men should be highlighted in the media as role models…. to reveal that there are some people in this country who have some respect for law.
According to Geo News, one of the men said ‘that he changed his mind because his term was almost over and the jailbreak would have been of no consequence for him except more trouble’. Good call, on his part. Meanwhile the police claim they have arrested 10 escaped prisoners.
Coming back to the Bannu jail attack, according to authorities some militant commanders had been shifted to Bannu jail recently, and they had received intelligence that the Taliban were planning to attack detention centres to free them.
And it is obvious that this attack was a meticulously studied and planned one, with every detail that could have proved a hindrance in the operation scrutinized and a way out to the attackers. This was evident from the way the attackers easily overcame the obstacles, from the time they entered the building, gaining access to the most secured areas as well as the other cells and leaving with an extra almost four hundred men with them.
The authorities magnanimously admitted that this was a security lapse. They were lucky this time that no bodies fell. But it was a security collapse, mainly because a convoy of vehicles (eye witnesses say the attackers came in 25 heavy vehicles) carrying hundreds of men who entered the city unchecked, unstopped. This convoy left in the same manner without much hindrance taking almost three hundred more people with them. It is probably difficult to miss a huge mass of people, on foot and in vehicles but that they people had the advantage of darkness on their side could work in favour of the authorities.
The fact that the attackers came and went without much problem could probably mean they had help inside the building or the prison hierarchy. Until the authority makes sense of this, the top officials including the IG Prisons of Khyber Pakhtunkwa have been removed.
Already the security forces have been painfully stretched both physically and mentally in Khyber Puktunkhwa, as well as the rest of the country.The Bannu Jail attack has revealed that the government and security set up has an Achilles’ heel and something needs to be done fast, as the opponent is using this to its advantage.