An Afghan soldier held on suspicion of killing a NATO soldier from Slovakia escaped from prison and walked off a heavily guarded military base with the help of a guard, officials said yesterday.
The escape will raise new questions about the capacity and professionalism of the Afghan National Army as the remaining 100,000 foreign troops in the country prepare to leave next year.
The soldier was arrested on Tuesday last week after opening fire on foreign troops. The Slovakian died and six other soldiers were wounded during the attack at a military base in the southern province of Kandahar.
Officials said the Afghan soldier fled his prison cell on Sunday.
“An Afghan army soldier who opened fire on Slovakian soldiers last week has run away from detention,” Afghan National Army General Abdul Hameed, the top commander in the south, told reporters.
The general said another soldier, who had guarded his prison cell, assisted his breakout and also absconded.
The pair managed to sneak off the base by pretending that the detainee was sick and needed to be taken to a military hospital, the general told reporters.
The US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it had “full confidence” that the soldier would be re-arrested.
Afghan Ministry of Defense spokesman General Zahir Azimi confirmed to reporters that an investigation had been launched.
The Taliban said the shooter, whom they named as Isanullah, had links to the Taliban and was helped by a fellow soldier to escape.
A local official said the guard — a fellow soldier — and the shooter walked out of the prison and hitched a lift on the base from a military truck, asking to be dropped off at the gate.
“The driver agreed without realizing their identity. They simply walked off the base and disappeared,” he said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Songs advocating the Taliban fight and suicide bombings had been found on his mobile phone during investigations, the official said.
“It appears that he was impressed by the Taliban, if he did not have a full link [to the insurgents],” the official told reporters.