Seven Taliban inmates were seriously injured in a clash between two Taliban groups in Peshawar Central Prison. Peshawar is the capital city of the north-west Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) province of Pakistan. KP shares a large and porous border with Afghanistan. According to reports the two Taliban groups quarreled over “Asr” (dusk) prayers. It is alleged that one Taliban group wanted to say collective prayers but the other group did not. First they had an altercation, which eventually lead to full-fledged fight.
The prison staff rushed to the spot to put an end to the fighting but not before seven Taliban had been wounded in the fight. It is very strange , as reported in the press, that it took the prison staff over half an hour to control the situation. Due to the sensitive nature of the affair, army personnel also reached the area of fighting to prevent the fight from spilling over into something as ominous as a jail break; this is the way many jail breaks had been attempted in the past, with some of them successful. This was the case with the jail break that took place in Bannu Prison, also in the KP province. During the Bannu Prison incident over one hundred prisoners escaped by taking advantage of the lax security.
The Peshawar Central Prison has been placed under tight security because it harbors some of the most wanted terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Only last week, an 18 hour search operation was conducted by personnel of the Pakistan army, as there were reports that a jail break may be attempted or the Peshawar Central Prison besieged from outside by the Taliban to free their imprisoned comrades.
The anonymous tip to the army was that some corrupt police officials had delivered suicide jackets to the Taliban prisoners. After the extensive search, however, it was discovered that the jackets in question were not suicide vests but only sweaters and regular jackets to keep the prisoners warm in the freezing temperatures of the Peshawar Central Prison. No suicide jackets or any other explosive matter was recovered during the extensive search. However, the warden of the Peshawar Central Prison has been shifted by the Pakistan army soldiers to an undisclosed location. It is reported that he is under investigation regarding the distribution of the jackets among the Taliban prisoners.
During the search operation by the army, five unregistered SIM cards, two mobile phones and an adapter were recovered. Since this incident, the situation within the prison is very tense. This has led strong contingents of the Pakistan army to be deployed to the Pershawar Central Prison to deter any uprisings or other incidents. Furthermore, according to a press release by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman, these contingents of the army are deployed at the Peshawar Central Prison to bolster security and will remain in place until further notice. The opposition provincial government of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has also deployed elite police commandos at the gates of Peshawar Central Prison.
According to prison authorities, the Taliban groups used to say their prayers together in the past, but they had developed some differences recently, which ultimately resulted in this fight, and they said that five prisoners were hurt in the fighting, not seven. The real reason behind the clash between the two Taliban groups is still not known. The visits by the prisoner’s families have been cancelled as the situation is very tense after the clash between the two Taliban groups in Peshawar Central Prison.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada