29 killed in prison attack in Afghanistan

29 killed in prison attack in Afghanistan
Afghan security personnel gather in front of a prison after an attack in the city of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday.
Jalalabad, Aug 3 (AP) | Publish Date: 8/3/2020 9:42:56 AM IST

The Islamic State group attacked a prison in eastern Afghanistan holding hundreds of its members, leading to a long battle Monday that saw the military retake control of the facility even as militants continued to fire on them from a nearby neighbourhood. The fighting killed at least 29 people and wounded 50, authorities said.

Security forces seized the prison Monday afternoon in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, some 115 kilometers (70 miles) east of Kabul, Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said.

Sporadic gunfire rang out from nearby residential buildings in central Jalalabad, an area of high security near the provincial governor’s office. The attack highlighted the challenges ahead for Afghanistan, even as U.S. and NATO forces begin to withdraw following America striking a peace deal with the Taliban.

As security forces swept through the prison, they found the bodies of two Taliban prisoners apparently killed by the Islamic State group, showing the tensions between the two militant factions battling each other in eastern Afghanistan.

The 29 dead included civilians, prisoners, guards and Afghan security forces, said Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman.

The attack began Sunday, when an Islamic State suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives up to the prison’s main gate, detonating the bomb. Islamic State militants opened fire on the prison’s guards and poured through the breach.

The Islamic State group’s affiliate in Afghanistan, known as IS in Khorasan province, later claimed responsibility for the attack. The affiliate is headquartered in Nangarhar province.

The motive of the attack wasn’t immediately clear. However, some of the 1,500 prisoners there escaped during the fighting. Khyogyani said about 1,000 prisoners who earlier escaped had been found by security forces across the city. 

The attack came a day after authorities said Afghan special forces killed a senior Islamic State commander near Jalalabad.

While the Islamic State group has seen its so-called caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria eliminated after a year-long campaign, the group has continued fighting in Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan has seen a recent spike in violence, with most attacks claimed by the local Islamic State group affiliate.

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