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Seven injured as Taliban groups clash in Peshawar jail

06 January, 2014

PESHAWAR: Seven Taliban prisoners were injured in a clash between their two groups in the Peshawar Central Prison, sources said on Sunday.

The sources told the Taliban groups quarrelled in the prison over the Asr prayers. The sources said one group wanted to collectively pray first, but the other did not allow it to do so. Eventually, they came to blows.

The seven prisoners injured in the clash were shifted to a hospital in the prison for treatment. The sources said that the prison staff rushed to the spot and controlled the situation within half an hour.

The jail officials said the Taliban prisoners had developed differences and were divided into two groups in the prison. They used to offer collective prayers separately. They said that relations between the Taliban factions turned sour when some prisoners refused to offer collective prayers with the rest and started offering prayers in a separate group.

Commissioner Peshawar Zaheerul Islam also confirmed the prisoners' clash and said the police controlled the rival groups immediately and only five prisoners were injured.In the meantime, the army personnel also reached the prison, but the prison staff had already controlled the situation and shifted the Taliban prisoners to their respective barracks.

Since last week, the Peshawar Central Prison has been under tight security as the Pakistan Army conducted about 18-hour-long search operation in the jail on Thursday after receiving information that some police officials had delivered some jackets to the Taliban.

However, after investigations, it was revealed that the Taliban prisoners wanted to get warm jackets to cope with the cold weather and not those used in suicide blasts. However, the jail warden who was accused of delivering the jackets to the Taliban prisoners was later handed over to the police and is still under investigation.

During the search operation at the Peshawar Central Prison, security forces recovered five SIM cards, two mobile phones and one charger. They had received information that jackets had been delivered to Taliban prisoners for possible use in acts of terrorism. However, no explosive material was found at the prison.

On Friday, the security forces again came to the prison and remained deployed at the main gate of the prison, apparently to bolster its security. The provincial government has also deployed members of its Elite Force drawn from the police in large numbers at the prison.

The prison, situated in the centre of Peshawar adjacent to the Police Lines, is in close proximity with several important government offices, including the Governor's House, Peshawar High Court, Judicial Complex, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and Corps Commander's House.

There are also high-profile prisoners in the Peshawar Central Prison. They include Dr Shakil Afridi, who was convicted by a court for maintaining links with militants in Khyber Agency even though many believe he was imprisoned for spying for the CIA and helping it to track down the al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden. The elderly Maulana Sufi Muhammad, chief of the Islamic group TNSM and father-in-law of the new TTP chief Maulana Fazlullah, is also imprisoned at the Peshawar Central Prison.

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