Afghan security forces ended a nearly 20-hour-long attack on a prison and nearby shopping mall in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing ten assailants, Afghanistan’s Tolo News reported.
At least 29 people died and 50 were wounded in the fighting in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, government officials said.
Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry issued a statement saying government security forces killed ten attackers, the attackers killed five prisoners, and six other people were wounded in the fighting. By late Monday, security forces had rounded up 1,025 inmates who attempted to escape during the prolonged assault on the prison. Two security force members lost their lives in the fighting, the Defense Ministry added.
“The attack began when a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives at the entrance gate of the prison in … Jalalabad city at 6:44 pm on Sunday,” Tolo News reported.
After the car explosion, the attackers began an assault on the prison and a nearby shopping mall. Afghan chief of army staff, Gen. Yasin Zia, was deployed to Nangarhar province to oversee a counterattack. After 18 hours of fighting, the deputy spokesman for Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry, Fawad Aman, confirmed that the attack had ended on Monday.
The Amaq News Agency, Islamic State’s mouthpiece, quoted a military source claiming its fighters were responsible for the attack, Reuters reported. So far, Afghan authorities have yet to independently confirm Islamic State’s responsibility for the assault.
The attack began on the third and final day of the Eid al-Adha (Islamic holiday) ceasefire agreed to by the Taliban and the Afghan government; the jihadist terror group denies involvement in the attack.
The Afghan government released hundreds of Taliban prisoners during the ceasefire as part of negotiations between the two parties as they attempt to make headway toward long-stalled peace talks. The Taliban refuses to recognize the U.S.-backed Afghan government as the country’s legitimate ruler. In an effort to foster peace, the U.S. has encouraged both the Taliban and the Afghan government to engage in prisoner swaps to build confidence between the two parties as they try to build toward dialogue.
Despite the apparent progress, the Taliban has continued to engage in violent assaults in Afghanistan that threaten to derail the peace process. The jihadis killed 580 civilians and wounded 893 others in the first half of 2020, according to a report published by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) late last month.
“Anti-Government Elements continued to be responsible for the majority of civilian casualties, with UNAMA documenting a disturbing increase in civilian casualties attributed to the Taliban from pressure-plate improvised explosive devices, as well as from abductions that led to ill-treatment and summary executions,” the report stated.