While questions over the role of the authorities regarding the Bannu jailbreak still remain unanswered, the release of a video by the Taliban manages to show their side of the story as they bask in their ‘success’.
The video of the Taliban’s attack on the Bannu Central Jail, considered the largest prison break in the history of the country, was released on Tuesday.
On April 15, nearly 400 prisoners, including some hardcore Taliban militants, escaped after dozens of heavily-armed insurgents launched a brazen attack on the prison in Bannu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack and said that most freed prisoners have reached ‘their destination’.
The video shows that coaches were used to transport militant prisoners after the well-planned and coordinated attack.
The video also shows that guards deployed to protect the jail offered no resistance at all, making it a much easier task for the militants.
The militants were equipped with anti-tank mines, RPG-7 rockets and AK-47 rifles. One of the anti-tank mines was used to blow up the main gate of the central jail – a picture of which was plastered in almost all national and international media.
The video begins with TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud pledging to fight the Pakistani government to the last man and last bullet, followed by an address by Maulana Wali Rehman Mehsud.
The video also shows footage of a group of militants gathered around an instructor who is briefing them about the operation using a map of the Bannu Jail.
With an easy entrance, the militants searched for their men, especially for Adnan Rasheed – a former junior technician of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) allegedly involved in a plot to assassinate former military ruler Pervez Musharraf – who was led to a coach waiting outside the jail building.
The video shows an interview of Rasheed, who thanks God for his safe release and also assures his friends imprisoned in other jails that they have not been forgotten by their TTP friends.
The rest of the prisoners were also freed. The video shows a militant standing at the gate encouraging the prisoners to come out without any fear.
A little known aspect of the Bannu Jail saga is the release of women prisoners from their barracks who can also be seen in the video coming out of the building and disappearing into the darkness of the night.
Towards the end of the video, three soldiers, said to be kidnapped by the militants, are also shown.
NADRA asked to help gather prisoner data
Meanwhile, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Home and Tribal Affairs Department has requested the federal government to direct the National Database and Registration Authority to help provide data of prisoners who fled after the Bannu jailbreak.
The department issued a notification to this effect on Tuesday.
The notification said that tracing every escaped prisoner was difficult; therefore a list of released or escaped prisoners was sent to NADRA’s K-P general manager to provide Computerised National Identity Cards and photographs in soft and hard copies to assist intelligence agencies.
“Despite a lapse of three weeks, no response has been received,” it said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2012.