A shattered vehicle lies at the gate of Sarposa Prison on Saturday, a day after Taliban militants struck in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
A nighttime raid on Kandahar’s Sarposa Prison, carried out by Taliban operatives Friday, led to the escape of 1,200 prisoners, including around 400 Taliban members. The attack represented a serious security challenge in the Afghan city that’s considered the traditional home of the country’s leaders and the Taliban’s spiritual center.
The New York Times:
A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, said that the attack was carried out by 30 insurgents on motorbikes and two suicide bombers, and that they had freed about 400 Taliban members, The Associated Press reported.
The breakout from Sarposa Prison will present enormous security challenges for Afghan and NATO forces surrounding Kandahar, President Karzai’s home city but also the spiritual capital of the Taliban. Traditionally, Kandahar is home to the rulers of Afghanistan, and control of it is seen as critical to the government’s hold on the entire country.
The city has been in a precarious situation since Taliban forces massed in the nearby district of Panjwai in 2006. Since then Canadian forces have struggled to secure the area, and the Taliban have repeatedly sought to gain a foothold in the districts surrounding the town.
The prison break is also likely to increase pressure on President Karzai, who is coming under increasing criticism at home and abroad for his faltering leadership and his inability to manage the country. Even as international donors pledged $21 billion in aid for Afghanistan this week, many of them have criticized his failure to tackle the problems of security and corruption.