Sarposa prison attack of 2008

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Sarposa Prison attack
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
DateJune 13, 2008
Location31°37′08″N 65°40′05″E / 31.61889°N 65.66806°E / 31.61889; 65.66806Coordinates: 31°37′08″N 65°40′05″E / 31.61889°N 65.66806°E / 31.61889; 65.66806
Result Taliban victory
(1,200+ prisoners freed).
Afghanistan Afghan National Police Afghanistan Taliban insurgents
Casualties and losses
15 policemen killed[1] 8 prisoners killed
2 suicide bombers

The Sarposa Prison attack was a raid on the Sarposa Prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan by Taliban insurgents on June 13, 2008. One of the largest attacks by Afghan insurgents, the raid freed 400-1000 prisoners.[2] As of 2008, prison administration was overseen by Abdul Qabir.[2]

Followed unrest[edit]

In May 2008, 200 prisoners announced a hunger strike and 47 of the captives physically stitched their mouths shut to protest their conditions. The strike ended when the Afghan parliament agreed to review their detentions; as some of them had been held for two years without charge, or faced summary trials they felt were unfair.[2]


On June 13, a tanker truck approached the front gates of the prison at approximately 21:00 after nightfall[3] and detonated explosives contained within itself, killing all Afghan police in the area.[2] A second suicide bomber was alleged to have walked to the back gates of the prison in the confusion, and detonated explosives he was carrying himself[2] although later reports suggested the rear wall had not been breached.[4] Insurgents fired rockets at the prison as the Taliban fighters broke in and a 30-minute battle began.

Over the next thirty minutes, a team of thirty insurgents aboard motorcycles fired AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades into the prison. Several ran into the prison and began freeing prisoners[3] who fled through the breached walls, and disappeared into nearby pomegranate and grape groves.[2]


In the end almost all of the prisoners at the facility, more than 1,200 men, managed to escape. They were aided by minibuses waiting for them outside the prison during the attack. Some 390 of them were suspected Taliban fighters. Reports of people killed in the attack include: 9-16 police officers, 8 prisoners and the 2 suicide bombers.[1][5]

Following reports of the mass-escape, Canadian troops stationed at Kandahar Airfield were deployed to secure the prison[6] and ISAF troops began a door-to-door search through Kandahar seeking escapees.[3]

Resulting conflicts[edit]

Troops were redeployed[7] into the area following the prison break and have been involved in skirmishes that have, as of June 17, resulted in 20 Taliban Deaths in Tabin, 16 in Khohak and Arghandab, with 2 Afghan and 4 British soldiers killed in separate incidents,[8] which lead up to the Battle of Arghandab.


  1. ^ a b Gall, Carlotta (June 14, 2008). "Taliban Free 1,200 Inmates in Attack on Afghan Prison". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Time magazine, "Taliban Militants Storm Afghan Jail", June 13, 2008[dead link]
  3. ^ a b c Schmidt, Doug. Saskatoon Star Phoenix, 1,000 inmates escape from Afghan prison after blast, June 13, 2008
  4. ^ Panetta, Alexander. Canadian Press, Canadian troops encounter bomb, exchange gunfire on patrol in Kandahar City, June 17, 2008
  5. ^ Starr, Barbara; Peikar, Farhad (June 14, 2008). "Taliban fighters escape after Afghan prison bombing". CNN. Retrieved 2008-06-15.
  6. ^ Panetta, Alexander. Toronto Star, Kandahar prison attacked, June 13, 2008
  7. ^ Taliban take over villages near Kandahar
  8. ^ Afghan, NATO troops kill 36 Taliban near Kandahar

See also[edit]