Suicide car bomber, gunmen attack prison in eastern Afghanistan
By RAHIM FAIEZ | Associated Press | Published: August 2, 2020
KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber and multiple gunmen attacked a prison in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, Afghan officials said, killing at least three people and injuring 24 others.
The gunbattle between Afghan security forces and insurgents in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, was still ongoing Sunday evening, and casualties were likely to rise, according to Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor.
Tariq Arian, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said at least three people were killed, while Zahir Adil, the spokesman for the provincial Health Ministry, provided the figure of 24 wounded.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and the local affiliate of Islamic State are active in eastern Afghanistan. The ISIS affiliate is headquartered in Nangarhar province.
Sunday’s attack comes a day after the Afghan intelligence agency said a senior ISIS commander was killed by Afghan special forces near Jalalabad.
The Taliban’s political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press, “We have a cease-fire and are not involved in any of these attacks anywhere in the country,” but said he was not aware of the details of the Jalalabad attack.
The Taliban declared a three-day cease-fire starting Friday for the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
The Taliban also had denied involvement in a suicide bombing in the eastern Logar province late Thursday that killed at least nine people and wounded at least 40, authorities said.
Afghanistan has seen a recent spike in violence, with most attacks claimed by the local ISIS affiliate.
A United Nations report last month estimated there are about 2,200 ISIS members in Afghanistan, and that while its leadership has been depleted, the group “remains capable of carrying out high-profile attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul.”
Efforts to get peace talks underway between the Taliban and the Kabul government have stalled after the Taliban and the U.S. signed a deal in February, seen as a blueprint to ending Afghanistan’s decades of war.
That deal was struck to allow the U.S. to end its 19-year involvement in Afghanistan, and calls on the Taliban to guarantee its territory will not be used by terrorist groups. The deal also is expected to guarantee the Taliban’s all-out participation in the fight against ISIS.
Associated Press writer Kathy Gannon contributed from Islamabad.