NEW: About 200 inmates escape, 35 of them high-profile militants, an official says
NEW: Bombs have been defused and weapons were recovered
The Pakistan Taliban claim responsibility for the attack
Official says four police officials and five militants were killed in the attack
Taliban gunmen wearing police uniforms attacked the largest jail in a northern Pakistani province early Tuesday, allowing about 200 inmates to escape, authorities said.
Around 35 of the escaped prisoners are high-profile militants, said Pervaiz Khattak, the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province where the attack took place.
During the fighting that followed the assault at the prison in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, four police officials and five militants were killed, said Shoukat Yousafzai, the provincial information minister.
There were 483 prisoners at the time of the attack, and a total of 200 have gone missing, according to Mushtaq Jadoon, the Dera Ismail Khan police commissioner.
The gunmen cut off the prison’s power supply, then launched the attack from all sides, said Malik Qasim Khan, an adviser to the chief minister on prisons. Multiple explosions were reportedly heard.
Jadoon said that the attackers announced the names of the people they wanted to free after they entered the jail and whisked the people away.
The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Locals said they heard chants of Allah O Akbar, “God is great” and long live the Taliban soon after the explosion and firing.
Taliban spokesman Shahidaullah Shahid said the group freed around 300 prisoners, a claim that Pakistani army officials denied. Shahid described the operation as a success.
Inayatullah Tiger,, a bomb disposal squad official, told CNN that forces have defused 350-kilogram bombs planted in various parts of the jail. Suicide jackets, other bombs and explosives-laden chemical drums have also been defused and weapons have been recovered, he said.