Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2011

The Taliban Tunnel Out

On April 25, over the course of 4½ wee morning hours, more than 480 imprisoned Taliban insurgents and other inmates made their way through an underground tunnel to freedom. The passage, which stretched for 1,050 feet (320 m), bypassed government checkpoints and watchtowers, barriers and razor wire that stood between the prisoners (including some 100 Taliban commanders) and the night. At 4 a.m., guards at Sarposa prison in Kandahar City (the former Taliban capital) discovered the jailbreak — just 30 minutes after the Taliban said they had gotten all the inmates safely to a house at the other side of the tunnel. The convenient timing, along with the fact that the inmates somehow escaped from locked cells in the dead of night and that guards had not noticed five months' worth of tunnel drilling, aided suspicion that the inmates had help from guards or officials, or both. This extraordinary break was not even the first such feat by the Taliban. At the same prison in 2008, a coordinated attack by insurgents freed some 900 prisoners.