DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Nearly 400 prisoners escaped from a jail in northwest Pakistan early on Sunday after it was attacked by militants armed with guns and rocket propelled grenades, a senior police official said.
Some who fled the jail in the town of Bannu, near tribal areas close to the Afghan border, were militants, an intelligence official said.
According to Bannu Jail Superintendent around 500 militants attacked the prison in the wee hours.
One inmate who escaped was on death row for involvement in an attempt to assassinate former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a second police official said.
Pakistan's al Qaeda-linked Taliban movement, which has close links to al Qaeda, said its fighters mounted the assault, which triggered clashes. Several people were wounded.
"We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way," a Taliban spokesman said.
The claim could not be immediately verified.
A police official identified one of the inmates who escaped as a "dangerous prisoner" named Adnan Rasheed who took part in one of the attempts to kill Musharraf.
"He was a mastermind in (one of the attacks) on Musharraf. These people came for him and took another 383 people too," the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Police and intelligence officials said only some of the prisoners who escaped were militants.
"Dozens of militants attacked Bannu's central jail in the early hours of the morning, and over 300 prisoners have escaped," senior police official Mir Sahib Jan told Reuters.
"There was intense gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades were also used."
Paramilitary troops and security forces surrounded Bannu Central Jail. Of a total 944 prisoners in the jail, 384 escaped, said another police official.
Militants apparently targeted six jail blocks in the attack, he said. (Geo News/Reuters)