Taliban fighters wielding automatic weapons, grenades, mortars, and bombs freed 248 inmates from a prison in the northwest Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan Monday night, killing at least 13 people — offering quite the dramatic welcome for the country's newly-elected President, Mamnoon Hussain.
Pakistan's parliament chose Hussain to take over the mostly-ceremonial post as news of the violence spread to the capital in Islamabad. BBC correspondant M. Ilyas Khan said: "We will never know if the timing was deliberate, but it has hugely embarrassed the government, and once again highlighted the ability of the militants to strike at will. Suggestions the authorities had advance warning of the attack, but did not act on it, only make matters worse."
Who are the 248 freed convicts? That will be hard to say, since an unnamed official told the AFP that attackers also torched the jail's records and record-keeping facilities. At least 30 of the escaped prisoners have been described as "hardened" Taliban members to watch. Six women are reportedly among the freed prisoners.
Authorities have the town on lockdown as they launch a search for escapees. Many are saying the attack is reminiscent of another prison break last April, in which Malala Yousafzai's wannabe pen-pal / Taliban leader Adnan Rasheed escaped.
The BBC says the Taliban has been increasingly using jail-breaks as a strategy, instead of negotiating the release of their prisoners through other means (think: hostages).