By Zahir Shah
The Pakistani Taliban, on Tuesday, released a video showing the attack carried out by them last month to release prisoners from the Bannu jail.
The video shows the pre-attack planning, the jailbreak operation and the release of Taliban prisoners, including Adnan Rashid, a key suspect in the attack on former president Pervez Musharraf.
The 34-minute video by militants, begins with a previously recorded message from former Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) chief Hakimullah Mehsud and the Meshud Taliban chief Waliur Rehman Mehsud and goes on with a tirade against Pakistan’s army and democratic and judicial systems. The militant leaders are also seen making renewed threats to continue such attacks to for the release of Taliban prisoners.
In the pre-attack phase, the video shows militants’ planning with hand-made maps and sketches of Bannu Central Jail’s surroundings and interiors, showing security pickets and details of security cordons. At an unknown location believed to be in North or South Waziristan tribal areas, a masked militant instructs the fighters, detailing how they are supposed to carry out attacks on the security pickets of the jail from all sides and the main gate.
“The main motive of our attack is to set free innocent people from the custody of the tyrant rulers and provide them easy and cheap justice,” Waliur Rehman says, with a white flag in the background.
“The Bannu Jail operation will help in the release of those deprived, innocent people who had no say in Pakistan,” Waliur Rehman goes on to say in his Urdu-language speech.
“Listen my prisoner brothers, we are coming to get you out of these black holes and you will be free soon,” he remarks, with the concluding message: “True shahriah will be implemented in Pakistan very soon.”
As the main gate is blown up by missile attacks, scores of Taliban fighters are seen entering the jail while firing rockets and with their heavy and light machine guns amid sloganeering.
Militants are seen speaking in Punjabi language as well as the Pashto language spoken in the tribal areas, showing that the militants a sizeable number of non-Pashtun fighters among them.
The militants broke open the locks with hammers and by firing at the gates to help the escaping prisoners, among whom was Rashid, who the authorities believe was the key man for whom the jail break was planned.
Many of the Taliban prisoners hugged and shook hands with their saviours from behind the bars, as if they had been waiting for the moment as the video showed there was no resistance from more than 128 policemen and other security personnel deployed at the jail.
Several prisoners also raised slogans and kept on moving out of the jail but some insiders believe many of the policemen also shed their uniforms and started sloganeering with the fleeing prisoners, as the heavily-armed militants entered the jail.
At least 384 prisoners, some sentenced to death along with four key TTP commanders escaped the jail. Women were also among these escaping prisoners.
While some prisoners returned to the prison and some were arrested, but several others are still at large.
Earlier, in a one-and-half minute video, Rashid was shown being greeted by militants in Wasiristan Agency. In the new video, Rashid justifies his stance of attacking General Musharraf and vows to continue fighting the Pakistani security forces.
The Bannu jailbreak inquiry report will be discussed on May 16, by the provincial cabinet of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It is expected that the government will take action against more than 150 officers and officials, which could lead to their termination.
Meanwhile, after the apparent failure of the National Data Base Registration Authority (Nadra) to provide the KP Home Department with details of the prisoners, the Home Department has requested the Federal Government to direct the DG Nadra to furnish them the information at the earliest.