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384 prisoners freed by militants in NW Pakistan

(Xinhua)

13:26, April 15, 2012

ISLAMABAD, April 15 (Xinhua) -- A total of 384 prisoners were freed by militants following a surprise attack by them on a prison in Pakistan's northwest district of Bannu early on Sunday morning, said a police officer.

Senior Police Officer Sahib Jan said that the attack took place at about 1:30 a.m. local time on Sunday when a large number of militants coming in vehicles and on foot launched an attack on the central jail in Bannu.

Local media reported that over one hundred militants armed with automatic weapons were involved in the attack and they blew up the main gate of the prison with handgrenades and exchanged fired with the police guards.

A total of 25 people including police and prisoners got injured in the attack, said Sahib Jan, adding that 384 out of the 944 prisoners in the jail were freed by the attackers.

They opened six barracks by firing at the locks of the cells, he said.

Among the prisoners freed, 21 were militants and 22 were felons facing capital punishment, said local media. But the report was not officially confirmed yet.

Ten prisoners who run away have been arrested in the nearby places during the search operation launched by the police and army, said Sahib Jan.

Some of the freed prisoners who committed minor crimes offered to come back on their own, he said. But he did not give the exact figure.

Local media said that some of the prisoners freed by the attackers were of foreign nationality.

One prisoner escaped with the attackers is sail to be involved in a suicide attack on the then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi, a garrison city of the country's capital Islamabad.

The Pakistan Taliban took the credit for the attack and claimed that they had freed over 1,200 prisoners in the attack.

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