Members of the Pakistani Taliban storm prison, set loose 250 inmates
Pakistani Taliban operatives break 250 inmates out of prison, Mugabe hopes to extend 33-year presidential tenure, and two trains collide head-on in Switzerland. Today is Tuesday, July 30, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.
Policemen (R) and Ranger soldiers (L) stand outside a prison following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan, July 30, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer
Pakistani prison break. Pakistani Taliban operatives, armed with bombs and dressed as police, freed 250 inmates – including 30 top militants and six prisoners on death row – from a Pakistani jail:
The attack in the city of Dera Ismail Khan showed the ability of the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban to strike at the heart of Pakistan’s heavily guarded prison system and walk away with dozens of senior Taliban fighters and commanders. The overnight assault on the Central Prison took place despite reports that regional officials had received intelligence days, if not weeks, ago suggesting such an attack was imminent. Officials blamed a combination of negligence and lack of communication among Pakistan’s many security agencies, but some suggested there may have been a degree of insider help.
The Pakistani Taliban said they sent in 100 fighters and seven suicide bombers to free top leaders. According to a senior Pakistani Taliban official, the jailbreak was engineered by Adnan Rashid, a commander who was himself freed in a comparable operation one year ago. The Pakistani Taliban’s victory highlights weaknesses within Pakistan’s security system, an issue the country’s newly elected president will face. According to one Pakistani government official, only 70 of the 200 guards supposed to be on duty were at the prison that night. Another official said that inmates likely communicated with the Pakistani Taliban using cell phones provided by prison wardens. The attack follows a mass jailbreak carried out by al Qaeda in Iraq last week and the escape of more than 1,100 inmates in Benghazi on Saturday.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace (R) arrive to address the final campaign rally of his ZANU-PF party in Harare, July 28, 2013. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Do or die. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe will defend his 33 years in office on Wednesday in a contentious presidential election that Mugabe calls a “do or die” contest, and opponent Morgan Tsvangirai referred to as a watershed moment that will decide “between a progressive future… or a return to the dark days”:
Whatever the outcome of Wednesday’s vote, Mugabe may find it hard to overcome his image in the West as a cold-hearted despot, blamed for killings and abuses against opponents and for ruining a country once known as a “jewel of Africa” through a policy of violent seizure of white-owned land. Mugabe and his supporters dismiss this view as a Western cliche. The Jesuit mission-educated former teacher was always an enigmatic and controversial figure after he joined the struggle against white minority rule in Rhodesia. He was dubbed the “thinking man’s guerrilla” because of his bookish, bespectacled demeanor and the academic degrees he earned during a decade in jail. Ian Smith’s white Rhodesian government which he fought cast him as a “bloodthirsty Marxist puppet” and even “an apostle of Satan.” But for many of the black majority at the time, Mugabe, whose middle name is Gabriel, was an angel of liberation who helped conquer the independence of newly named Zimbabwe in 1980.
The U.S. has said it won’t accept the results of an election that isn’t free and fair, and opponents complain of a campaign rife with polling inaccuracies and a rushed electoral process. The International Crisis Group warns that violence may follow the vote, as it did during 2008’s presidential election. Read more on Mugabe’s controversial tenure here.
Swiss rescue workers wheel a wounded person on a stretcher after two regional trains crashed head on near Granges-Pres-Marnand near Payerne in western Switzerland, July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse. See more images here.
Another transport disaster. Two Swiss trains collided on Monday, leaving 26 injured and the driver of one dead, in the third transport accident to rock Europe in the space of several days:
The driver’s body was found overnight in the wreckage of the crash at Granges-près-Marnand in the canton of Vaud, police spokesman Jean-Christophe Sauterel said. He said it was too early to try to ascertain the cause of the crash. One of the injured was taken by helicopter to Lausanne. Others were treated on the spot by paramedics or taken to hospital by ambulance. Police said 46 people were on the two trains, one of which was heading to Lausanne, the other was going to Payerne.
On Monday 38 passengers were killed and at least 18 injured when an Italian bus plunged 80 feet off a viaduct, and last week 79 people were killed when a Spanish train derailed. The drivers in both disasters appeared to be exceeding respective speed limits.
Nota Bene: Tunisia’s largest labor union calls for the dissolution of the Islamist-led government following protests.
Savory suit – A Chinese man is tried for poisoning dumplings. (BBC)
Smog returns – Southeast Asia’s haze is back, and could get worse. (Time)
Info ladies – Women bike through Bangladesh, bearing laptops and offering web access for a price. (The Guardian)
Hackers’ brew – Club Mate is the German hacker’s drink of choice. (Al Jazeera)
Market moving jam – Psy’s hit pop song “Gangnam Style” boosted his father’s company’s stock by 800 percent. (Quartz)
From the File:
- Saudi website editor sentenced to corporal punishment and seven years in prison.
- Al Qaeda affiliate claims responsibility for Iraqi attacks that killed 60 people.
- European Union to continue mediation efforts in Egypt.
- The son of a disgraced Chinese politician enrolls in prestigious American law school.
- Italy’s top court begins to hear Berlusconi’s appeal.