AUTHORITIES said today they have recaptured 65 prisoners who were among about 500 inmates who escaped in an audacious Taliban-led jailbreak in southern Afghanistan.
The prisoners, mostly insurgents, escaped overnight on Sunday through a kilometre-long tunnel that the Taliban said took them five months to dig into the prison in Kandahar city, the heartland of the Islamist insurgency.
A manhunt was launched to recapture the escapees who, according to the Taliban, included more than 100 rebel commanders.
“Afghan national security and ISAF forces launched a huge searching operation right after the prisoners escaped and have massive civilian support and positive results,” Kandahar provincial authorities said in a statement.
“Joint security forces have recaptured 65 of the prisoners who escaped from Kandahar prison.”
More than 130,000 international troops, mainly from the United States, are in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban and other insurgents.
The daring breakout in the Taliban’s heartland, the second from the prison in three years, threatens to undermine recent gains claimed by NATO forces in the area after a US-led troop surge, just as the annual fighting season begins.
It is also a major embarrassment for Afghan forces who are due to take on greater responsibility for security in their country ahead of the planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.