The Afghan government called the breach a disaster. The breach called into question the extent of the gains made against the Taliban in 18 months of hard fighting in Kandahar Province, and whether any progress would be sustainable once NATO troops began to reduce their numbers as planned this summer, members of Parliament, tribal leaders and Western officials said in interviews.

Some worried that the jailbreak might strengthen the Taliban in the coming weeks as the spring fighting season began. Having so many fighters back in circulation — possibly including hard-core commanders — also threatened to undermine efforts to bring Taliban fighters over to the government side, Afghan officials and former Taliban said…

“The Taliban gain two things from this jailbreak,” he said. “First, coming after the incidents in Kunduz, Laghman, Kandahar and at the Ministry of Defense headquarters, it sends a message that they can do whatever they want, even at the heart of the most secure and important jail, and it allows them to strengthen their ranks with more manpower.”