20 arrested after Afghan prison break
Security forces in Afghanistan have recaptured 20 men out of about 1,000 fugitives who escaped from a prison in Kandahar city two days ago, officials said Sunday.
News of the arrests came during a briefing by Kandahar province police chief Gen. Sayed Agha Saqib and Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, the Canadian commandeer in Afghanistan as they talked of how Afghan forces have prevented roadside bombings in recent weeks.
"With the help of the local population, they've seized a lot of IEDs, 50 rocket-propelled grenades, 30 anti-tank mines, 11 suicide motorcycles and ammunition," the Canadian general said. "Citizens have turned these devices in."
Afghanistan has seen escalating violence in the past two years from roadside bombs and suicide bombers.
Gen. Saqib gave assurances that "every one" of the escapees from Friday night's prison break would be caught, but said that just one of the arrested fugitives has been identified as a Taliban militant. Eight others who are back in jail turned themselves in.
Canadian soldiers continued their door-to-door search on Sunday in an effort to round up escapees. However, Thompson reiterated the view that local authorities are taking a leading role in hunting them down.
"There is nothing air power can do to stop running fugitives," said Thompson, who a day earlier indicated his soldiers would help their Afghan allies by passing along intelligence.
The prison break began when a suicide bomber drove a truck into the main gate and blew it up. As many as 50 Taliban militants armed with guns and grenades then stormed the compound and freed the prisoners.
It's estimated nearly 400 Taliban prisoners were among those who escaped. Kandahar province is considered the birthplace and main stronghold of the Taliban.
NATO has said the co-ordinated attack was a tactical success for the Taliban but would not have a long-term or large impact on the Afghan conflict.