At least 29 people are dead and 50 injured after ISIS attacked a prison in Afghanistan, sparking a two-day battle that saw 300 inmates including jihadis freed.
The attack began Sunday when an ISIS militant drove a van filled with explosives up to the prison gates and detonated it, before gunmen opened fire.
Attackers then streamed into the jail through the breach, shooting dead civilians, guards and rival militants including Al Qaeda prisoners as they opened the cells.
Around 1,350 of the jail’s 1,800 inmates – including many ISIS fighters – are thought to have escaped, with more than 300 still missing. 400 stayed in the prison.
Gunmen then bedded down in the prison and surrounding buildings, fighting running gun battles with security forces who tried to retake it.
Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said the prison was taken back in the afternoon on Monday. The fighting also left at least 50 wounded.
At least eight militants were also killed during the fighting.
Even as Afghan troops seized the prison in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, some 70 miles east of Kabul, ISIS fighters continued to fire on them from a nearby neighborhood.
Sporadic gunfire rang out from nearby residential buildings in central Jalalabad, an area of high security near the provincial governor’s office.
As security forces swept through the prison, they found the bodies of two Taliban prisoners apparently killed by the Islamic State group.
The ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, known as IS in Khorasan province and headquartered in Nangarhar province, later claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attack came a day after authorities said Afghan special forces killed a senior Islamic State commander near Jalalabad.
Several hundred prisoners in Jalalabad are believed to be ISIS members.
Following the collapse of its so-called Caliphate, ISIS has transitioned into a guerrilla fighting force waging wars in the Middle East and Africa.
In Afghanistan, the terror group is at war with US, Afghan and Taliban forces – which are currently trying to strike a peace deal.
The US struck a deal with the Taliban in February. A second, crucial round of negotiations between the Taliban and the leadership in Kabul has yet to start.
The Taliban’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told The Associated Press that his group was not involved in the Jalalabad attack.
The Taliban had declared a three-day cease-fire starting last Friday for the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The cease-fire expired at 12 a.m. Monday.
“We have a cease-fire and are not involved in any of these attacks anywhere in the country,” Shaheen said.
The Taliban also had denied being involved in a suicide bombing in eastern Logar province late Thursday that killed at least nine people and wounded 40.
Some detainees who fled the prison after the militant attack were captured later by security officials on Monday.
Afghanistan has seen a recent spike in violence, with most attacks claimed by the local IS affiliate.
A United Nations report last month estimated there are around 2,200 IS members in Afghanistan..
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