Close to 400 prisoners – including some “very dangerous'' insurgents – managed to escape a prison in the north-western province of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa on Sunday after heavily-armed Pakistani Taliban terrorists stormed the premises in a pre-dawn attack.

According to the police, “militants,'' armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, attacked the Bannu Central Jail in the early hours. They broke through the main gate and engaged prison guards in a two-hour-long gun battle that reportedly ended when the latter ran out of ammunition.

Though it was not clear whether the terrorists had come to release anyone specific, the prisoners made good the opportunity and fled the premises after the locks of their cells were broken. One of the prisoners who escaped was apparently Adnan Rashid, would-be assassin of the former President, Pervez Musharraf.

Daring as the attack was, it has also left a number of unanswered questions. The police claim that the prison guards and security personnel manning the outer limits of the jail were grossly outnumbered has raised the question as to how so many terrorists had managed to group near the premises without being noticed. Particularly since security is tight in Bannu as it borders North Waziristan.

Focusing on the damage done to the prison premises by the attackers, television channels were questioning the absence of blood in view of the claim that the two sides were engaged in a gun battle for nearly two hours. The primary question was whether the attackers had inside help; both within the jail and outside in view of the ease with which they seem to have staged the attack.

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