- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2008

— Afghanistan (AP) – Militants attacked the city’s main prison with a suicide car bombing and rockets late Friday, killing police and setting prisoners free, Afghan officials said.

Justice Minister Sarwar Danish said a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle at the prison’s gates in the southern Afghan city.

Danish said he did not have immediate details on how many prisoners might have escaped. But a prison official at the scene, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said most prisoners escaped.

The prison holds common criminals but also Taliban militants fighting NATO troops and the Afghan government.

Officials with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said they were aware of the attack but did not have any details yet.

Last month, some 200 Taliban suspects held at the Kandahar prison ended a weeklong hunger strike after a parliamentary delegation promised their cases would be reviewed.

Lawmaker Habibullah Jan said some of the hunger strikers had been held without trial for more than two years. Others were given lengthy prison sentences after short trials.

Jan said 47 of the prisoners had stitched their mouths shut during the hunger strike in May.

Kandahar – the Taliban’s former stronghold and Afghanistan’s second-largest city – has been the scene of fierce battles between NATO forces, primarily from Canada and the United States and Taliban fighters the last two years.

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