Story highlights

200 inmates escaped in Taliban attack on prison Tuesday attack, officials say

35 were high-profile militants, official says

Taliban spokesman: 35 Taliban fighters who escaped are safe

CNN  — 

Police have recaptured 40 to 45 of the roughly 200 inmates who escaped during a Taliban attack on a prison in a northern Pakistani province this week, a prison official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday.

Not recaptured, however, are any of the roughly 35 high-profile militants who escaped, the official said.

Taliban gunmen wearing police uniforms attacked the prison in the city of Dera Ismail Khan early Tuesday, allowing about 200 of the facility’s 483 inmates to escape, authorities had said.

About 35 of the escapees were high-profile militants, Pervaiz Khattak, the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said Tuesday.

Adnan Rashid, a Pakistan Taliban spokesman, told CNN that some of the escapees were high-ranking Pakistan Taliban members who’d operated in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, where there has been a spike in sectarian violence.

He said 35 Taliban fighters escaped, and that they are now safe in Meer Khan, North Waziristan, a Pakistani district that borders Afghanistan.

The prison attack was planned for a month, Rashid said.

The jail is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s largest. Four police officials and five militants were killed in the attack, said Shoukat Yousafzai, the provincial information minister.

The inspector-general for the province’s police force, Ihsan Ghani, said Wednesday that he would investigate the escape.

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