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IS Claims Deadly Attack On Afghan Prison, Hunt Continues For Last Of Attackers

03 Aug 2020 Gandhara - RFE/RL

Afghan security forces continue to search for suspected Islamic State (IS) militants following a bomb-and-gun attack on a major prison in the capital of the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar that has left dozens of people dead or injured.

Officials said by late morning on August 3 that at least 13 people had been killed and 42 more wounded.

A provincial governor's spokesman, Ataullah Khogyani, had said earlier that three attackers had also been killed.

Security troops have cordoned off the area around the prison and are clearing a multistory building on a nearby plaza where more of the militants are thought to be hiding.

An RFE/RL correspondent reported that the shooting seemed to have mostly subsided.

The attackers detonated a car bomb outside the prison in the provincial capital of Jalalabad around 6 p.m. local time on August 2, springing dozens of prisoners and sparking an hours-long gunbattle with security forces.

The fighting raged overnight into August 3 as militants clashed with security forces from buildings near the prison, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Jalalabad.

Officials said between 50 and 100 inmates escaped but that many were recaptured.

The prison houses about 1,700 Taliban and IS prisoners, along with other criminals.

On its Amaq news agency, the IS group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack occurred the day after Afghan special forces announced they had killed the intelligence chief of the IS group's Afghan headquarters in Jalalabad.

The Taliban has denied responsibility for any of the most recent attacks.

The assault comes on the third and final day of a cease-fire between the Taliban and the Afghan government to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban have both indicated that intra-Afghan talks could begin immediately after the festival, as the United States presses for the start of long-awaited negotiations following the signing of a February agreement with the Taliban aimed at reducing U.S. troop numbers and encouraging direct peace talks.

A major hurdle in launching intra-Afghan talks is the completion of prisoner exchanges.

Over the three-day cease-fire weekend, Ghani said he had released an additional 500 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture, bringing the total number of militants released to 4,600 out of the 5,000 pledged in the landmark agreement.

The Taliban says it has freed all 1,000 prisoners it had pledged in the agreement with Washington, and insists on its demand for the release of the remaining 400 prisoners on the list.

With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan

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Original Link: https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/afghan-prison-attack-leaves-several-dead-dozens-injured/30763397.html

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