Interpol rebukes allies after Afghan prison break

AP News
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Posted: Apr 27, 2011 1:19 PM
Interpol rebukes allies after Afghan prison break

Interpol said Wednesday that Afghan authorities have failed to provide international law enforcement agencies with the identifying information on hundreds, mostly Taliban prisoners, who have escaped from a prison in the country's south, which could allow them to move across international borders undetected.

In a rare rebuke of international authorities in Afghanistan, Interpol chief Ronald Noble also denounced the "glaring and serious void in the world's anti-terror efforts" that could allow escaped convicts to carry out new attacks by making it tough for authorities to track them.

The remarks came after Afghan authorities on Monday discovered that more than 480 inmates _ mostly Taliban fighters and commanders _ fled from southern Afghanistan's largest prison through an underground tunnel that the rebel fighters had dug over several months.

The spectacular jailbreak came after years of security upgrades and tightened procedures at the 1,200-inmate Sarposa Prison in the wake of brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed another 900 prisoners.

"It is simply shocking that three years after the largest prison break in Afghanistan history, including of convicted terrorists, there is no data to be shared with law enforcement regionally and globally situation in the event of an escape," Noble said.

Allied countries, despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year in Afghanistan, have not adequately trained or equipped authorities on ways to take, store and share "strong identifying information," the Interpol said in a statement.

"Until this glaring and serious void in the world's anti-terror efforts is filled, no country can consider itself secure from criminals and terrorists who are essentially being given the opportunity to travel internationally, elude detection and to engage in future terrorist activity," he said.