Nearly 500 Taliban prisoners broke out of an Afghanistan jail via a 1,000-foot-long tunnel on Monday to the dismay of peacekeeping troops in the country, according to media reports.
President Hamid Karzai’s spokesperson Waheed Omer called the entire situation a “disaster” as majority of the prisoners were fighters and commanders who fought during the war in Afghanistan, reported the AFP news agency.
"This is a blow, it’s something that should not have happened," he said.
The Taliban later confirmed that they were responsible for the tunneling job, adding that it took five months to dig it, the news agency reported.
"We had proper digging equipment. There was so much earth from the tunnel that we carried it away gradually and sold it in the market," Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, told the BBC.
With the support of trained engineering professionals, the Taliban “managed to hit the spot where the prisoners were kept" at the Sarposa jail outside of Kandahar, Mujahid said.
The hole is around three feet in diameter, dropped straight down five feet into the ground, and then appeared to bend to the side.
"People escaped in small numbers, room by room—this avoided overcrowding and noise. It was all very professional," Mujahid said.
The prison has had a jailbreak problem in the past. In 2008, around 1,000 prisoners, some of whom belonged to the Taliban, managed to escape after a truck bomb blew open the front gates.