At least 29 people have been killed in a high-profile attack on a central prison in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad which saw more than 1,000 prisoners try to flee.
The attack, claimed by Islamic State (IS), began on Sunday evening when car bombs were detonated at the prison’s entrance by gunmen.
Eight of the attackers were killed in a battle lasting almost 20 hours, a Nangarhar province spokesman said. A number of prisoners remain missing.
There were 1,793 inmates in the prison at the time of the attack – most of them Taliban and IS fighters, a security source told the AFP news agency. It was not immediately clear if the attack had been staged to free specific prisoners from the complex.
According to the provincial spokesman, 1,025 escaped prisoners have been brought back to the jail, and 430 have been rescued. More than 50 people were injured. Exact figures have not been given for the number who remain at large, or those who were killed.
The attack happened on the third and final day of a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, with hundreds of Taliban prisoners released in an effort to get peace talks moving between the two sides.
The Taliban – which is a staunch rival of IS – had earlier said it was not responsible for the attack.
Sunday’s attack came a day after Afghanistan’s intelligence agency announced that the country had killed a top IS commander, Assadullah Orakzai, near Jalalabad. Orakzai had allegedly been involved in several deadly attacks against Afghan security forces. Nangarhar province was the Islamic State group’s first stronghold in Afghanistan. It still has a foothold there, despite government officials claiming last year that the group’s local affiliate – known as Islamic State Khorasan – had been completely defeated in the province.
Nangarhar had already seen deadly attacks this year, including a 12 May suicide bomb that killed 32 mourners at a funeral for a police commander.