DI KHAN: At least six people were killed, including five policemen as the Tehreek-e-Taliban mounted a late night assault on the prison in Dera Ismail Khan late on Monday, Express News reported.
The prison, which holds as many as 5000 prisoners, including as many as 250 militants, some of them high profile commanders, was attacked from multiple sides just before midnight. Militants and suicide bombers disguised as police men reportedly stormed the main gate of the prison. Several explosions were also heard after militants launched the attack. The blasts were reported to be a mix of rocket attacks, grenades and suicide blasts.
Up to 40 gunmen wearing police uniforms launched their attack by blowing up the electricity line to the prison and detonating heavy explosions that breached the outer walls, said provincial prisons chief Khalid Abbas.
Militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the responsibility for the attack and claimed that they had managed to free many of their men.
The assault lasted for over five hours.
Authorities imposed a curfew in the area till the matter settles. Deputy Commissioner DI Khan Ameer Khattak appealed to the people to stay in their homes.
Reportedly, some militants also managed to escape from the prison following the deadly attack. There were conflicting reports on the number of militants who managed to escape.
DI Khan Commissioner Mushtaq Jadoon said dozens of prisoners had escaped. “The Taliban have loudspeakers and they are calling the names of their friends,” he said.
The TTP claimed that they were looking in particular for two commanders. One of them is Sufi Mohammad, the TTP commander for Swat. The other is Shaikh Abdul Hakim. It could not immediately be confirmed that these two commanders were, if at all, being held at the assaulted facility.
Security forces responding to the attack reported that six prisoners, who had earlier managed to escape, have been recaptured at on Darband road. The curfew was also expanded to Attala road.
At least two suspected terrorists were also killed in an encounter with the police. Police officials claimed that as many as six terrorists had been killed.
Express News correspondent Ramzan Seemab said that militants and security forces were engaged in fierce fighting. Additional contingents of security forces, including army troops, were also been dispatched to the area cordoned off the site.
On Sunday, at least three prisoners managed to escape from this same prison when inmates Dera Ismail Khan Central Jail attacked and took some of the guards as hostage.
Surrounding buildings under attack
Militants have also launched an attack on buildings surrounding the prison, including a radio station and a hospital. A nearby house was also reportedly attacked where the militants took the residents hostage and laid an ambush for security forces' reinforcements.
Earlier, before launching an attack on the central prison, militants had cut off the electricity to the area.
The central jail is located in the centre of Dera Ismail Khan, surrounded by commercial, residential and government buildings.
Pakistani militants have launched successful raids on prisons several times before. Last year, nearly 400 prisoners were freed when the Taliban attacked a prison in the northern town of Bannu.
After that attack, militants told Reuters they were helped by insiders in the security services.
An inquiry later found there were far fewer guards on duty than there should have been and those who were there lacked sufficient ammunition.