Taliban forces carried out a massive jailbreak in central Afghanistan in the city of Ghanzi on September 14, freeing hundreds of prisoners being detained for various reasons, including connections with known terrorist cells.
According to witnesses, the attack occurred at 2 in the morning, with Taliban forces firing a rocket launcher at several watchtowers and sending suicide bombers in a Toyota Corolla to blow up the prison gate.
Six Taliban fighters cleverly dressed as prison guards stormed the prison and freed 355 prisoners, 148 of which had been charged with international and security crimes according the internal ministry of justice as well as Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, Ghazni’s deputy governor. All—in —all, the jail held a total of 436 prisoners so not everyone was freed.
Four police officers on the scene were killed while seven more were injured while only three Taliban insurgents died in the attack according to their Twitter account.
According to Ahmadi, the deputy governor, the jailbreak appears to have been carefully planned as Taliban forces attacked multiple locations in the city during the break to divert resources away from the prison break to prevent reinforcements from aiding the besieged prison. Additionally, Ahmadi stated that the Taliban scattered several mines around the prison to keep any reinforcements that arrived outside of the prison’s perimeter.
The Afghanistan Interior Minister, Nur ul-Haq Ulumi commended the police for acting “swiftly” despite the frustration of locals in Ghazni who seem displeased with how the situation was handled.
“The officials know what their job is, but they are not doing it,” stated Abdul Qayum Hasanyar, a local from Ghazni. “If they don’t want to do their job, they should resign. I worry that one day the province will fall to the Taliban but no one is doing anything. The future is very dark.”
This is not the first time that the Taliban have attempted a prison break of this scale. In Kandahar, two jailbreaks were executed in 2008 and 2011 respectively freeing over 1,300 prisoners as well as in 2012, were insurgents freed around 30 prisoners from Sar-i Pul.
While Monday’s jailbreak shows the hardships of maintaining such a disputed region as Ghanzi, it is worth noting that the jail held many prisoners charged with threatening national security. Ghanzi has long been plagued with internal-violence and kidnappings, especially to members that identify as Hazara minority.
According to Afghanistan, their forces continue to fight across the country , but have taken a severe hit to morale as causalities continue to rise to record highs, up a staggering 50 per cent from 2014 figures.
During such a turbulent time for the Taliban, this prison break can be seen as an attempt to strengthen the fighting spirit that the Taliban is known for. Following the death of Mullah Omar, the Taliban is looking to re-bolster the group and help Mullah Akhtar Mansour into his role of Taliban leadership.