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Hundreds of Taliban fighters bolted from prison in a daring escape overnight Sunday, prompting a huge hunt for the fugitives and exposing glaring security gaps in efforts to contain the insurgency.

Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa said Monday that a total of 475 political prisoners had escaped, “including one criminal.”

The insurgents had worked for months digging the tunnel they used to get out, Wesa said.

The tunnel was started in a house located to the north-east of the Sarpoza prison in the city’s Sarfooza area and continued to the entrance of the prison’s political block about 300 metres away.

“Some of the escaped prisoners have been recaptured by the security forces,” Wesa said.

“Huge operations have been launched inside and on the outskirts of Kandahar city for the rest of them.”
A spokesman for the Taliban, Qarii Yousaf Ahmadi, claimed that 541 insurgents escaped overnight after tunnelling underground to avoid security checkpoints.

President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omer called the incident a “disaster.”

Source: Colin Perkel The Canadian Press.

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