Hundreds Escape in Taliban-Led Afghan Jailbreak

Nearly 500 prisoners have escaped from a jail in southern Afghanistan through a tunnel dug by Taliban insurgents, government officials revealed on Monday.

The governor of southern Kandahar province told Reuters that 488 prisoners were able to escape through the tunnel, which led to a nearby house. Many Taliban commanders are feared to be among the escapees. Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman said the incident was a serious blow to the government as it prepares to take control of security operations from foreign forces. “This is a blow, it is something that should not have happened. We are looking into finding out … what exactly happened and what is being done to compensate for the disaster that happened in the prison,” Karzai spokesman Waheed Omer said.

The Taliban has confirmed that they were responsible for the massive jailbreak, saying in a statement that the actual escape was completed in four-and-a-half hours. The insurgents said the jailbreak began late in the night. The jailbreak comes as foreign forces prepare to gradually cede to local police and military control of security operations in several areas starting this summer.