At least 24 people were killed in a gunbattle between Afghan security forces and Islamic State fighters after the latter attacked a prison in the city of Jalalabad on Monday. The overnight attack resulted in a mass jailbreak.
A car bomb was detonated at the entrance of the prison which held nearly 2,000 inmates, marking the beginning of the assault. Following this, several blasts were heard as security guards were open fired upon by the IS gunmen.
Sohrab Qaderi, a lawmaker from the capital of Nangarhar province, confirmed that 30 militants were involved in the attack. Three militants were killed and at least 21 members of the security forces and civilians lost their lives during the shootout, while 43 were wounded, according to Attaullah Khugyani, a spokesman for the governor.
Escaped Prisoners Recaptured
Police were forced to divert manpower to recapture escaped prisoners amid the chaos, and by noon on Monday around 1,000 had been caught, Qaderi said, without elaborating on how many were still at large.
Afghan special forces arrived to support police, according to officials, and civilians were being evacuated from areas surrounding the prison, where Taliban and IS prisoners were being held along with ordinary criminals.
Meanwhile, the city was in lockdown. "The whole city of Jalalabad is under curfew, shops are closed," Qaderi said. "Jalalabad is completely empty." IS claimed responsibility for the attack, which came a day after the Afghan intelligence agency said special forces had killed a senior commander of the group near Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar.
Some 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Kabul, Jalalabad lies on the highway leading to the Khyber Pass and the Pakistani city of Peshawar. A United Nations report last month estimated there are around 2,200 IS members in Afghanistan, and that while the group is in territorial retreat and its leadership has been depleted, it remains capable of carrying out high-profile attacks.
(With inputs from agencies)