PESHAWAR: The administration of the Central Prison Bannu had conveyed its concern over inadequate security arrangements in and around the jail after high-profile militants were shifted to the facility much before the jailbreak, a source told The News on Tuesday.
The source said that a number of high-profile militants were recently shifted to the Central Prison Bannu and the administration wrote to the Inspector General (IG) Prisons of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that they were not having adequate security arrangements for keeping these militants. However, the source said, no heed was paid to the matter, which resulted in the biggest jailbreak in the country’s history. Till Tuesday, 103 of the escaped prisoners surrendered or were re-arrested by the police.
The authorities on Tuesday appointed a senior officer, Khalid Abbas, as acting Inspector General (IG) Prisons, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but none has been appointed yet as commissioner and deputy inspector general (DIG) of police for the Bannu division.
The three senior officers along with the deputy superintendent of Central Prison Bannu were removed from their offices on Monday after the jailbreak in which the Taliban attackers helped 384 inmates to escape from the jail.
There were reports that a team of the US officials visited Peshawar on Tuesday and met senior government officials to seek details of the escaped prisoners. The team later returned to Islamabad.
A meeting was also held in the Department of Home and Tribal Affairs where all the officials concerned were tasked to re-arrest the escaped prisoners. The meeting was informed that 103 of the escaped 384 prisoners have surrendered or were arrested by the police during raids.
Interestingly, Bannu had been without the district police officer (DPO) for many days when it was attacked by the militants who came in a number of vehicles from the nearby North Waziristan and other tribal areas.
The former police chief of the district, Gul Said Afridi, had been relieved of his charge to report for duty in his new job in Peshawar while the new DPO Bannu, Waqar Ahmad, had not assumed his office. Waqar Ahmad had to rush to Bannu on Monday to assume his office and supervise the investigations.
There were intelligence reports since January that militants may carry out a big strike on security establishments in Bannu. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar had also hinted on February 24 that there were reports that militants were planning to carry out a big attack on security establishments in Bannu and Peshawar.
Two suicide bombers, including a female, stormed the Kulachi Police Station in Dera Ismail Khan last year, holding all the cops hostage and killing seven of them. This was followed by another brazen attack on the office of district police officer (DPO) Dera Ismail Khan.
A former chief of the district police said that Bannu was among the first few districts where the quick response force (QRF) was established to respond within 10 minutes in case of an emergency.
Not only the police, but the QRF, the Frontier Constabulary and military in the Bannu Cantonment failed to respond in time to counter the militants during the attack on the Bannu jail. No action has been taken yet against the local police officers and others for their failure to respond in time to the attack.
The officials of the Home and Tribal Affairs Department disclosed that they had planned to install jammers in the sensitive jails but had not received clearance from some federal departments. There were reports that jailed militants using cellular phones have been in contact with their colleagues in the jails and outside due to lax controls at the prisons.