(Article changed on August 10, 2013 at 13:00)
(Article changed on August 7, 2013 at 21:06)
Interpol issued a global security alert on Saturday (August 3) advising its members to increase their vigilance against attacks after a series of prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan that the agency is investigating to determine if they were linked. The Lyon, France-based Interpol said given that al-Qaeda was suspected to be involved in some of the incidents of jailbreak in nine countries, including Pakistan, it was asking its 190 member countries to watch out for information connected to the prison breaks, with an aim to determine whether they were coordinated and also locate the escaped prisoners.
On August 2, the United States issued a worldwide travel alert warning Americans that al-Qaeda may be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa. The State Department travel alert was based on the same intelligence that prompted it to close 21 US embassies and consulates on August 4 (Sunday), chiefly those in the Muslim world, the Reuters news agency quoted a US official as saying.
On July 27, amid violence and lawlessness, some 1,117 inmates broke out of the Kuafiya prison on the outskirts of Tripoli. According to the Libyan officials there had been an attack on the facility from outside as well as a riot inside.
Two days later, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) sent a strong message to the ruling elite about the precarious security situation in the strife-torn country with a military-precision raid on the Dera Ismael Khan prison, securing release of their imprisoned comrades.
The fragmented reports about how the attack on a well-guarded 100-year-old prison housing about 5,000 prisoners provides the following narration:
The attack on July 29 took place at around 11.30pm and went on till 2am -- almost three hours with one hour inside the jail compound. The militants equipped with megaphones called out names of their comrades and broke open their cells with explosive devices.
Interestingly, there was no breach of wall of the prison. The main gate remains intact and the guard manning the gate told investigators that when he saw the militants blowing up the APC and when they approached the gate and ordered him to open it he had no option but to open it.
The militants walked in, made announcements on the megaphones, and took away their men. They also went on a slaughtering spree, beheading four Shiite inmates, taking away heads of two of them.
In all, by the last count, 248 prisoners have escaped, among them 30 hardcore militants, including Qari Asif and Khalil, the group allegedly involved in bombing in Dera Ismail Khan that had left 25 mourners dead on the ninth and tenth of Muharram last year.
Dera Ismail Khan's Central Jail holds as many as 5,000 prisoners including 250 inmates belonging to various banned outfits.
Those who escaped are believed to have been whisked away to nearby South and North Waziristan, areas where the Taliban has strongholds.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban sources said it took them one month to plan the operation that cost them about 10 million rupees (approx. $ 100,000).
A commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), Adnan Rashid, who was spirited away in the raid, told a private TV channel that the Operation titled Merg-e-Najaat was accomplished with the help of most sophisticated weapons and advanced gadgets including night- vision lenses .
Adnan Rasheed, a former junior technician of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), was convicted for allegedly planting a bomb under a bridge in Rawalpindi near Islamabad in December 2003. The bomb exploded moments after the passing of former military ruler General Parwaiz Musharraf's motorcade. He was also freed in a similar attack in Bannu by the Taliban last year. His appeal was pending before the Supreme Court.