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Afghanistan prison break frees over 800 inmates after Taliban attack

[JURIST] Approximately 870 inmates escaped from the main prison in Kandahar City in southern Afghanistan Friday when members of the Taliban [JURIST news archive] conducted a bomb and rocket attack. Prison officials said that nine police were killed. NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) [official website] estimates that the number of escaped prisoners is closer to 1,100. A Taliban spokesperson said the attack had been planned for two months. Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai [official profile], a deputy minister in Afghanistan's Justice Ministry [official website] said that the Sarposa prison did not meet international standards and that there had been plans to renovate it. AP has more.

Sarposa was the site of a hunger strike [JURIST report] last month by an estimated 200-300 detainees protesting the slow nature of the Afghanistan judicial system. The strike ended after a visit by Afghan lawmakers who said the detainees' cases would be reviewed by new judges. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] said previously that the prisoners were demanding speedy trials and the advice of counsel at court hearings. It is unclear how many Kandahar detainees, if any, have been tried before a court of law; rights groups complain that many rulings against detainees have been made on the basis of allegations by US authorities. Canadian military personnel have been working with Afghan officials to try to improve conditions and procedures [CTV report] at the facility.

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