01-29-2023  11:35 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NORTHWEST NEWS

Oregon BIPOC Caucus Calls for Action to Support Victims of Gun Violence

The Legislative Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus has released the following statement in response to the tragedy at Half Moon Bay, CA that left seven dead and one person wounded, all of whom were people of color

Democrats Voice Priorities for Coming Year in the Capitol

Highlights from the Democrats 2023 legislative agenda. 

Colorado Lawmakers Look to AI to Detect Wildfires Earlier

A historic drought and recent heat waves tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West and scientists say warming weather will continue to make fires more frequent and destructive.

Justices Weigh Effort to Balance Washington State's Tax Code

Washington is one of nine states without an income tax, and its heavy reliance on sales and fuel taxes to pay for schools, roads and other public expenses falls disproportionately on low-income residents.

NEWS BRIEFS

Oregon Graduation Rate Rises With Gains Made In Every Student Group

Class of 2022 graduation rate is second highest In Oregon’s history ...

City Council Approves 13 to Independent District Commission

The commission will lead the effort to establish four new geographic districts for Portland’s next city council. ...

Incorporating Mindfulness Into Social Justice Classes Topic of Feb. 8 Oregon State Science Pub

The free event, which can be attended in person or viewed online, will feature a presentation by Kathryn McIntosh. She will discuss...

Exhibit "Flowers for Elders" Celebrates Living Portland Artists

Free, public, multimedia exhibit runs through Feb. 25 in SE Portland ...

The Skanner Foundation's 37th Annual MLK Breakfast to Air on TV

The sold-out event will air on 5 upcoming dates and times on Comcast Xfinity channels at the start of Black History Month. ...

Fully clothed bathing burglar found in Seattle bathroom

SEATTLE (AP) — A man suspected of breaking into a Seattle home has refused to come clean about his intentions, even though police found him fully clothed in a bathtub filled with water. A woman returned to her home Friday night to find a window smashed and an unknown man inside the...

Man accused in substation vandalism is released from custody

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — One of the two men charged with vandalizing electrical substations in Washington state over the holidays to cover a burglary was ordered released from federal custody Friday to seek substance abuse help. A federal judge issued the order for Matthew Greenwood,...

Knight, Illinois State take down Southern Illinois 72-66

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — Seneca Knight scored 24 points and Kendall Lewis secured the victory with a jump shot with 37 seconds remaining as Illinois State took down Southern Illinois 72-66 on Sunday. Knight shot 6 for 8, including 3 for 4 from 3-point range, and 9 of 10 from the free...

Deen scores 21 to lead Bradley to 83-76 victory over UIC

CHICAGO (AP) — Duke Deen had 21 points to lead Bradley to an 83-76 win over Illinois-Chicago on Sunday. Deen shot 5 for 10 from the floor (4 for 6 from 3-point range) and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line for the Braves (15-8, 8-4 Missouri Valley Conference). Malevy Leons added 19...

OPINION

It's Time to Irrigate the Fallow Ground of Minority Media Ownership

In 2023, one aspect of civil rights and racial justice that barely remains addressed is racial inclusion in media ownership. ...

A Letter to Residents of N. and N.E. Portland from Commissioner Susheela Jayapal

Susheela Jayapal, Multnomah County Commissioner for District 2, North and Northeast Portland, reviews her first four-year term and looks forward to her second term ...

Are Black Individuals Like Kanye West, Van Jones, and Stephen A. Smith ‘Perpetrating a Fraud,’ or is Self-Hate a Primary Motivator for Anti-Blackness

“So, you have two types of Negro. The old type and the new type. Most of you know the old type. When you read about him in history during slavery he was called ‘Uncle Tom.’ He was the House Negro.”-Malcolm X ...

We Need Not Forgive

We need not forgive racial injustices in America’s past, and we must never forget them. But as a nation, we can reconcile. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Trustees picked by DeSantis may change progressive college

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — “Your education. Your way. Be original. Be you.” That's how New College of Florida describes its approach to higher education in an admission brochure. The state school of fewer than 1,000 students nestled along Sarasota Bay has long been known for its...

State of emergency declared over Atlanta 'Cop City' protest

ATLANTA (AP) — Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency Thursday, giving him the option of calling in the Georgia National Guard in response to a violent protest in downtown Atlanta over the killing by authorities of an environmental activist said to have shot a state trooper. ...

Jury rejects lawsuit filed by family of teen killed by cop

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal jury has found that a white Ohio police officer did not violate a Black teenager's civil rights when he shot and killed the boy while responding to a reported armed robbery. Jurors reached their verdict Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by Tyre King’s...

ENTERTAINMENT

Smokey Robinson, 'King of Motown,' to release new solo album

NEW YORK (AP) — It's been nearly a decade since Smokey Robinson's last album, but new music from the King of Motown is on the horizon. Robinson will release the nine-track album “Gasms” on April 28, the music legend behind hits like “My Girl” and “The Way You Do the Things...

Jesmyn Ward novel 'Let Us Descend' to be published Oct. 3

NEW YORK (AP) — The next novel by Jesmyn Ward, the two-time National Book Award winner, is the story of an enslaved teenage girl that the publisher is calling a blend of magical realism, historical narrative and Dante's “Inferno.” Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster,...

Jay Leno breaks bones in motorcycle wreck months after fire

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two months after undergoing surgery for serious burns, Jay Leno is now contending with a number of broken bones after being knocked off a motorcycle. The comedian and former “Tonight Show” host told a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Thursday that he broke...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Chiefs top Bengals 23-20 on last-second kick for AFC title

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes was forced to rely on his badly sprained right ankle rather than his...

'Avatar 2' tops box office for 7th weekend

“Avatar: The Way of Water” claimed the No. 1 spot on the domestic box office charts for the seventh weekend in...

Elon Musk's mysterious ways on display in Tesla tweet trial

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Elon Musk’s enigmatic personality and unconventional tactics are emerging as key exhibits...

Puerto Rico's southern region fights for cleaner air, water

SALINAS, Puerto Rico (AP) — Shuttered windows are a permanent fixture in Salinas, an industrial town on Puerto...

France must raise pension age to 64, prime minister says

PARIS (AP) — France’s prime minister insisted Sunday that the government’s plan to raise the retirement age...

Peru's protest 'deactivators' run toward tear gas to stop it

LIMA, Peru (AP) — When police fire tear gas at protesters demanding the resignation of Peruvian President Dina...

Mirwais Khan and Heidi Vogt the Associated Press

Sarposa prison was also attacked by the Taliban in 2008, with 1,000 inmates freed



KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban militants tunneled at least 480 inmates out of the main prison in southern Afghanistan overnight, whisking them through a 1,000-foot-long underground passage they had dug over months, officials and insurgents said Monday.

Officials at Sarposa prison in the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, say they only discovered the breach at about 4 a.m., a half hour after the Taliban said they had gotten all the prisoners out.

The militants began digging the tunnel about five months ago from a house within shooting distance of the prison guard towers. It was not immediately clear whether they lived in the house while they dug. They meticulously plotted the tunnel's course around police checkpoints and major roads, the insurgent group said in a statement.

The diggers finally broke through to the prison cells around 11 p.m. Sunday night, and a handful of inmates who knew of the plan unlocked cells and ushered hundreds of inmates to freedom without a shot being fired.

A man who claimed he helped organize those inside the prison told The Associated Press in a phone call that he and his accomplices obtained copies of the keys for the cells ahead of time from "friends." He did not say who those friends were, but his comments suggested possible collusion by prison guards.

"There were four or five of us who knew that our friends were digging a tunnel from the outside," said Mohammad Abdullah, who said he had been in Sarposa prison for two years after being captured in nearby Zhari district with a stockpile of weapons. "Some of our friends helped us by providing copies of the keys. When the time came at night, we managed to open the doors for friends who were in other rooms."

He said they woke the inmates up four or five at a time to sneak them out quietly. The AP reached Abdullah on a phone number supplied by a Taliban spokesman. His account could not immediately be verified.

Kandahar holds particular importance for the Taliban, which seized the city in 1994 as it began its campaign to take over Afghanistan toward the end of the country's brutal civil war. The Taliban held onto its stronghold city long after U.S. and NATO forces drove the insurgents from power in the country, and a recent wave of assassinations shows they still have strength there.

The Taliban statement said it took four and a half hours for all the prisoners to clear the tunnel, with the final inmates emerging into the house at 3:30 a.m. They then used a number of vehicles to shuttle the escaped convicts to secure locations.

Government officials corroborated parts of the Taliban account. They confirmed the tunnel was dug from the nearby house and the prisoners had somehow gotten out of their locked cells and disappeared into the warm Kandahar night.

Police showed reporters the roughly hewn hole that punched through the cement floor of the prison cell. The opening was about 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter, and the tunnel dropped straight down for about 5 feet (1.5 meters) and then turned in the direction of the house where it originated.

Reporters were not allowed into that building but officials pointed out the mud-walled compound with a brown gate and shops on either side.

The city's police mounted a massive search operation for the escaped convicts. They shot dead two inmates who tried to evade capture and re-arrested another 26, said Tooryalai Wesa, the provincial governor.

But there was no ignoring that the Taliban had pulled off a daring success under the noses of Afghan and NATO officials.

"This is a blow," presidential spokesman Waheed Omar said. "A prison break of this magnitude of course points to a vulnerability."

At least 480 inmates escaped from Sarposa, most of them Taliban fighters, according to the governor of Kandahar province. The Taliban said they had freed more than 500 of their fellow insurgents and that about 100 of them were commanders - four of them former provincial chiefs.

Government officials declined to provide details on any of the escaped inmates, including whether any of them are considered high-level commanders. The highest-profile Taliban inmates would likely not be held at Sarposa. The U.S. keeps detainees it considers a threat at a facility outside of Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan. Other key Taliban prisoners are held by the Afghan government in a high-security wing of the main prison in Kabul.

As the massive jailbreak suggests, the Afghan government remains weak in the south despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers. Kandahar city, in particular, has been a focus of the international effort to establish a strong Afghan government presence in former Taliban strongholds.

The 1,200-inmate Sarposa prison has been part of that plan. The facility underwent security upgrades and tightened procedures after a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners. In that assault, dozens of militants on motorbikes and two suicide bombers attacked the prison. One suicide bomber set off an explosives-laden tanker truck at the prison gate while a second bomber blew open an escape route through a back wall.

Afghan government officials and their NATO backers have repeatedly asserted that the prison has vastly improved security since that attack.

There are guard towers at each corner of the prison compound, which is illuminated at night and protected by a ring of concrete barriers topped with razor wire. The entrance can only be reached by passing through multiple checkpoints and gates.

An Afghan government official familiar with Sarposa prison said that while the external security has been greatly improved, the internal controls were not as strong. He said the Taliban prisoners in Sarposa were very united and would rally together to make demands from their jailers for better treatment or more privileges. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The prison break weakens the argument that international troops are making good progress in handing over more responsibility for security to Afghan forces, which will eventually enable the coalition to leave. President Barack Obama plans to start drawing down forces in July.

The Kandahar escape is the latest in a series of high-profile Taliban operations that show the insurgency is fighting back strongly against the surge of U.S. and NATO forces. Over the past year, tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO reinforcements routed the Taliban from many of their southern strongholds, captured leading figures and destroyed weapons caches.

The militants have responded with major attacks across the nation as the spring fighting season has kicked off. In the past two weeks, Taliban agents have launched attacks from inside the Defense Ministry, a Kandahar city police station and a shared Afghan-U.S. military base in the east. In neighboring Helmand province on Saturday, a gunman assassinated the former top civilian chief of Marjah district, where U.S. Marines started the renewed push into the south. The victim, Abdul Zahir, was also deputy of the provincial peace council.

Also on Saturday, a U.S. service member was killed in a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, the American military said in a statement. It did not provide further details.

---

Vogt reported from Kabul. Associated Press writers Amir Shah and Rahim Faiez contributed to this report from Kabul.

MLK Breakfast 2023

Photos from The Skanner Foundation's 37th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast.