[SEE: The Anatomy of A Psywar]
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Wolesi Jirga on Monday lambasted the Ministry of Interior (MoI) over a brazen Taliban attack on a prison in southern Ghazni province, suggesting the minister be summoned to the lower house
At least 436 prisoners ran away as a result of the overnight attack in Ghazni City, the provincial capital. Deputy police chief, Asadullah Insafi confirmed the attack to Pajhwok Afghan News, but gave no more details.
Abdul Rashid, the Ghazni attorney, said four policemen guarding the prison were killed and six others wounded in the daring Taliban assault, which led to the escape of 436 inmates.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said three of the assailants had been killed and the remaining seven returned to their respective areas.
Ali Akbar Qasimi, a lawmaker from the province, claimed some prisoners, who kicked up a ruckus on Sunday, were shifted to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office. Intelligence officials had been told about the Taliban plan to attack the facility, he revealed.
Despite having the tip-off, security officials could not prevent the assault, said the lawmaker, asking how a government that could not secure a prison would defend the country.
Mir Dad Khan, head of the house internal security commission, also blamed MoI for the incident. He said the ministry had failed to discharge its duty and the house should deal with the authorities concerned in accordance with the law.
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the attack had raised multiple disquieting question, because it took place despite top security officials being alerted about the possibility.
He tasked the internal affairs commission with summoning the interior minister to the lower house to brief lawmakers on the prison attack. A vote of no confidence should be tabled against the minister if he failed to come up with a satisfactory response.
Ministry of Interior (MoI) reported on Monday that a team of investigators has been assigned to investigate the massive prison break early Monday in central Ghazni province after Taliban blew the main entrance open.
The Taliban stormed the maximum security prison just days after the MoI transferred twenty high risk Taliban inmates from the prison to Kabul.
At least eleven police personnel were killed and wounded during the incident which resulted in the escape of 355 inmates.
“A few days back we transferred twenty Taliban commanders to Kabul from this jail,” MoI spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi said.
He said that a team of investigators has been dispatched to the province to investigate the incident and identify those responsible for it.
“A team of investigators has been sent to Ghazni to probe the incident and to find out what happened,” Sediqqi added.
According to the MoI, 436 prisoners had been detained in Ghanzi prison. Of those 148 of them were incarcerated on account of terrorism and threats to national security. An additional 207 were in prison on charges of criminal acts.
However, 81 prisoners remained behind.
Insurgents associated with the Taliban launched the attack at about 2am on Monday morning. Explosives were detonated at the main entrance, opening the way for a group of armed militants to enter – enabling the inmates to escape.
MoI officials have said that a massive search operation is currently underway to re-arrest the prisoners who escaped.
Reacting to the prison break, Afghan lawmakers in parliament called it disastrous and blamed the so-called fifth pillar of government for being behind the incident. MPs however demanded the swift dismissal of the provincial police chief.
“According to our information a manhunt wasn’t launched immediately to track down the prisoners. This shows government’s fifth pillar planned the break,” an Afghan MP said adding that authorities had received information beforehand of the planned attack.
“It is a great tragedy, it was an anticipated event and the National Directorate of Security had informed the police about the incident,” MP Arif Rahmani said.
Meanwhile, a number of analysts have blasted the MoI and called it incompetent in dealing with security at prisons. Analysts say poor staff performance and substandard buildings are two main problems at these facilities.
“There are two elements behind such incidents, commonly the Ministry of Interior dealt with prisons superficially and have not been able to take necessary security measures to secure prisons. Secondly prisons in Afghanistan are not built to standard – even in many provinces prisons do not have proper buildings,” university lecturer Nasraullah Stanikzai said.
Monday’s Ghazni prison break is the second such incident in the past few years. Four years ago, Kandahar prison was also breached and 500 inmates escaped. Only 65 of them were ever re-arrested.