Policeman and security official stand near a damaged jail gate after inmates escaped from the prison in the town of Bannu
Policeman and security official stand near a damaged jail gate after inmates escaped from the prison in the town of Bannu

A high-profile Pakistani prisoner who escaped along with 383 other inmates was allowed to use social networking sites to keep in touch with his friends and give interviews, a report has claimed.

Adnan Rashid was on death row at Bannu central prison in northwestern Pakistan for trying to assassinate former military president Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

Rashid was allowed to use mobile phones inside his cell, and used them to give interviews, the Pakistan-based Dawn news website reported.

Rashid, a former junior technician with the Pakistan Air Force, has continued to proclaim his innocence. His only crime, he said, was that he had voted 'No' in a referendum on extending Musharraf's tenure, Dawn reported.

During his time in jail, Rashid used social networking sites such as Facebook to answer interview questions and denounce corruption within the armed forces.

He also launched a plea to the supreme court, asking it to intervene in his case and those of other prisoners. He criticised the trial of civilians in military court and sent regular texts messages to journalists.

Taliban claims responsibility

Pakistan's Taliban movement has claimed responsibility for the attack that freed the inmates.

Officials said insurgents arrived in several cars and pick-up trucks, armed with guns, rockets and grenades and easily forced the metal gates of the jail.

"We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way," a Taliban spokesman said.

The Taliban commander suggested the liberators has been given inside help.

"We had maps of the area and we had complete maps and plans of the jail as well," the Taliban commander said.

"We have people who support us in Bannu. It was with their support that this operation was successful," he added.

Arshad Majeed, the inspector-general for prisons in the province, said that while 150 guards were supposed to be on duty on the day of the attack, only 36 were working.

Police said that 76 fugitives had now been recaptured.