Around 240 prisoners escaped a jail in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday following an attack by Taliban insurgents armed with mortars and grenades.
The prisoners that have fled include hardline militants, a government official told AFP news agency.
The Taliban militants staging the attack were disguised in police uniforms, security officials said.
“A total of 243 prisoners have escaped, six of them were later arrested by police,” senior government official Mushtaq Jadoon told private TV channel ARY News, adding that “30 among the escaped prisoners were hardcore militants”.
At least 12 people including four police were killed and seven others wounded in the assault on the Central Prison in Dera Ismail Khan, a city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, close to the lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan where Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked insurgents are active.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the jail attack.
“Some 150 Taliban, including 60 suicide bombers, attacked the Central Prison and managed to free about 300 prisoners,” Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told AFP by telephone.
Jadoon said the fighters had planted dozens of explosive devices in the jail and 14 of them had so far been defused.
“Police and other law enforcing agencies are busy in clearing the jail,” he said, adding authorities have imposed a curfew in the city and asked residents to stay at home.
“Through media, we appeal to the people to stay at home. It is to avoid any damage if army, police and paramilitary take any action,” he added.
The jail held up to 5,000 prisoners including some 300 militants involved in attacks on security forces and sectarian killings.