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Authorities have beefed up jail security in Karachi and Hyderabad
By Javed Mahmood
KARACHI – Authorities have moved more than two dozen notorious militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from prisons in Karachi and Hyderabad to far-flung institutions in Sindh Province after security agencies alerted them to the TTP’s plan to raid prisons in an effort to free its members, senior police officials said.
“The Ministry of Interior in Islamabad had forewarned the police and officials of prisons in Karachi and Hyderabad about the possibility of attack on jails,” Iqbal Mahmood, additional inspector general of Sindh Police, told Central Asia Online August 12. The ministry’s warnings two weeks ago cited reports by intelligence agencies of the Taliban’s plan to attack prisons.
To forestall any jailbreaks, authorities have shifted about 28 hardened TTP militants to Larkana, Sukkur and Jacobabad, he said, adding they are holding them in separate cells.
The most notorious of the transferred inmates are Akram Lahori, Waseem Baroodi, Ishtiaq Bajwa and Ataullah, who were involved in several bombings and masterminded terrorist attacks, Mahmood said. Those detainees will be under watch around the clock, he added.
Officials meeting regularly to review security, foil TTP plans
Larkana, Sukkur and Jacobabad are considered safe from militant attack, said Chaudhry Aslam, chief of the Anti-Extremist Cell of the Crimes Investigation Department of Sindh Police.
The key reason for this assessment is that they are more remote, he said. That makes it more difficult for militants to reach those jails, and any approaching group would be spotted more easily.
“We are holding regular meetings with officials of intelligence and security agencies to tighten security in Karachi and to protect jails,” Aslam told Central Asia Online. Militants will resort to anything to free their notorious companions, he said.
Police also have already adopted strict security measures in Karachi and other Sindh Province cities, which will discourage the Taliban from daring to raid any jail in the province, he said. The main security improvement involved increased manpower at the prisons, but some jails across the country are also awaiting the installation of cell phone jammers to thwart communication between prisoners and the militant networks.
“Whenever we receive warning from the intelligence agencies, we make the security arrangements fool-proof to foil the nefarious planning of the enemies of Islam and humanity,” Aslam said.
The Taliban April 15 stormed the Bannu jail, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, freeing almost 400 inmates, but authorities will not allow them to stage a repeat in Sindh Province, he said. Although Bannu isn’t a big city, that jail is in a more urban area than those the Sindh militants are being moved to.
“We are giving them (militants) a tough time in Karachi and other cities of the province, and we would continue to foil their plans,” Aslam, known as a fearless foe of the Taliban, said.
Since January, police have arrested about 68 Taliban suspects in Karachi.
Police also have stepped up monitoring of sensitive areas and prisons, he said.