At least 29 people were killed in a raid on an Afghan prison claimed by the Islamic State group, officials said Monday, as the country waited to see if a government ceasefire with the Taliban would rupture after its formal expiration.
Fighting finally ended at mid-afternoon at the jail in the eastern city of Jalalabad, where about 1,700 IS and Taliban inmates were being held, reports AFP.
IS’s news outlet Amaq said its fighters were behind the raid that had started with a suicide car bomb attack, and saw more than 1,000 inmates escape before most of them were recaptured.
The attack was the most violent incident since the Taliban and Afghan security forces held a three-day ceasefire over the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha which ended Sunday.
IS was not part of the truce which Afghan authorities hoped would pave the way for peace talks with the Taliban as early as this week.
An AFP correspondent who toured the prison after the attack ended saw bodies of some attackers and inmates lying in the prison compound.
The entrance to the jail was blown up by the initial car bomb attack. Several cells were burnt and damaged, while some had prisoners inside.
The Nangarhar governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP that 29 people had died in the fighting.
Officials said a total of 10 attackers were also killed. Meanwhile, the government accused the Taliban of violating the ceasefire 38 times over the three-day truce.
Interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said the insurgents had killed 20 civilians and wounded 40 by “carrying out terrorist and offensive attacks as well as using landmines”. The Taliban rejected his charges.
Under a deal signed by the Taliban and the United States in February, the “intra-Afghan” talks were supposed to start in March. Talks however were delayed amid political infighting in Kabul, and as an agreed prisoner swap dragged on.