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05 June 2023

Indian prison guards foil tunnel escape plan


Guards in western India have foiled an attempt by prisoners accused of deadly bombings to tunnel their way out of jail using food plates as tools, officials said on Monday.

Authorities at Sabarmati prison found a six-metre (20-foot) tunnel behind one of the barracks housing 14 men accused of killing 57 people in a series of bombings in Gujarat's main commercial city of Ahmedabad in 2008.

"When I asked the inmates of the barrack about the tunnel, three of them  confessed they had dug it," P.C. Thakur, a police inspector general, told reporters in Ahmedabad.

All three of the men who dug the tunnel are qualified engineers and apparently used plates to dig during the time they were allowed to work in a garden behind the cells, Thakur said.

The tunnel was discovered during a routine check by authorities who noticed that a particular patch in the garden was soft.

"A further probe by the jail authorities revealed that the tunnel was high enough for a man to crawl through," another official said, adding that it would have taken more than two months to build the secret route.

An inquiry has been launched into security lapses, the prison said.

The high-security prison, built during British colonial rule, houses nearly 3,700 inmates.

The prisoners involved in the attempted jailbreak are facing trial over more than a dozen bomb blasts on July 26, 2008 in Ahmedabad.

Several television stations at the time said they had received an email claiming responsibility for the blasts from a group called the Indian Mujahideen, a homegrown militant Islamist group.