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Up to 30 Taliban escape from Afghan jail
( 2003-10-11 16:51) (Agencies)

Up to 30 Taliban prisoners have escaped from jail in the volatile southern Afghan city of Kandahar, security personnel said on Saturday.

"I can confirm that 20 Taliban have escaped," said an intelligence official, who did not want to be identified.

A guard at the jail told reporters 30 prisoners had escaped. The breakout took place on Friday night. General Salem, head of security in Kandahar, confirmed there had been an escape, but said he did not know exactly how many prisoners had got away.

"Last night, a group of Taliban and political prisoners did escape but we don't know how many," he told Reuters.

He declined to say how the prisoners had escaped and said the incident was under investigation.

In late August, officials said the jail on the outskirts of Kandahar, an old stronghold of the Islamic militia overthrown by US-led forces in late 2001, was holding 50 to 60 "political inmates". The term is usually used to describe Taliban members.

Some of that group interviewed at the time by Reuters said they came from neighbouring Pakistan, which Afghanistan blames for sheltering Taliban guerrillas and leaders.

The Taliban have been blamed for a surge in violence across Afghanistan since August in which more than 300 people have been killed, including aid workers, government soldiers and police, US troops and many guerrillas.

Kandahar province has been the scene of many attacks blamed on the guerrillas.

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