400 inmates, some Taliban, escape Afghan prison

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — More than 400 inmates — many of them Taliban insurgents — escaped from the main prison in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar overnight through an underground tunnel, an official said Monday.

The jailbreak in Kandahar, the focus of much of the international military effort to defeat the insurgency, is a reminder that the Afghan government is weak and easily thwarted in the south, despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers.

The escape comes after security upgrades and tightened procedures at the 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison after a 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners.

Sunday night, about 476 prisoners streamed out of a tunnel dug between the prison and the outside and disappeared into Kandahar, a prison official said.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the insurgents on the outside dug the 1,050-foot tunnel to the prison over five months, bypassing government checkpoints.

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