Jalalabad: Fighters have attacked a prison compound in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, and a battle with security forces is under way, according to officials, in an attack claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) group that left at least 21 people killed and 42 others wounded.
The complex assault on Sunday began with a suicide bomber detonating a car laden with explosives near the entrance of the government-run facility, followed by multiple attackers opening fire on security guards.
Afghan police and special forces were deployed to the scene and an hours-long gun battle with the assailants ensued.
Afghan officials said the death toll could rise.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Bilal Sarwary, a freelance journalist based in Kabul, said he was told by an inmate that a number of prisoners were also wounded.
“Several security towers were being controlled by the militants,” Sarwary added. “It was still not clear how the group got so many weapons and ammunition in the heart of Jalalabad.”
There were also reports of dozens of prisoners escaping from the facility. Nangarhar police spokesman Tareq Aziz told AFP news agency that about 100 inmates tried to escape but many of them were captured by security forces.
But Ahmad Ali Hazarat, the head of Nangarhar provincial council, told AFP that a “large number” of them had managed to escape.