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Police May Have Aided Escape of Taliban Detainees - 2003-10-12


The governor of Afghanistan's Kandahar province said local security officers helped in the weekend jail break of prisoners connected with the country's former Taleban regime.

Kandahar Governor Yusuf Pashtun said local police may have had a hand in the escape of 41 political prisoners, who fled from a local jail via a makeshift tunnel.

Police sources in Kandahar tell VOA that some local security officers are also reported to have disappeared along with the fugitives.

Most if not all of the prisoners are said to be members of Afghanistan's former, religiously extreme Taleban regime, which was deposed two years ago.

The escapees reportedly included the brother of the ex-Taleban Defense Minister, who is currently still at large and wanted by the central government.

The escape is the latest in a series of incidents in an ongoing insurgency by remnants of the Taleban regime and other dissident militant factions.

Attacks by the insurgents in the country's north and east have increased in recent months, despite a military offensive against them, waged by Afghan forces and their American allies.

U.S. ambassador-designate to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said a lack of central government control over the security situation in some provinces accounts for continued insurgency.

"The central government in some of those areas has not had much capability to look after the security needs and other needs and there is a bit of a vacuum in some of those areas, and Taleban and al-Qaida people have sought to exploit or take advantage of that," he said.

Mr. Khalilzad said the United States believes the insurgency will intensify over the short term, but will eventually be defeated.

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