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Taliban Storm Afghan Prison, Free Inmates

  • RFE/RL

Taliban militants have stormed a prison in the central Afghan city of Ghazni, killing police officers and releasing hundreds of prisoners.

Ghazni Province's deputy provincial governor, Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, said the attack began early on September 14 with a suicide car bombing that then allowed other insurgents to get inside the compound.

Ahmadi said more than 400 prisoners had escaped. About 80 had been recaptured and 352 were on the run, including about 150 Taliban.

Seven Taliban and four members of the security forces were killed in the attack, he said.

"Roads to the prison were covered with land mines in advance to avoid reinforcement," Ahmadi told reporters. "An army vehicle coming for reinforcements was blown up by a roadside bomb while trying to reach the prison."

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed the group had carried out the attack, which he said was carried out by gunmen and three suicide bombers.

Ahmadi said the prison did not have heavy security because it was so close to Ghazni -- only seven kilometers from the city center -- and it was believed that reinforcements would get there quickly in the event of trouble.

However, Ahmadi added that 20 of the prison's most dangerous inmates had been transferred to another facility a day earlier after a fight broke out.

Officials in Ghazni said that there were attacks by the Taliban in at least 10 different parts of the city overnight.

One security official said the prison attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic rifles, were wearing Afghan security force uniforms.

A Reuters reporter outside the prison in Ghazni, 120 kilometers southwest of the capital, Kabul, saw the bodies of two men who appeared to be suicide bombers and a blown-up car that had apparently been used to destroy the main entrance.

In 2011, some 500 Taliban fighters and commanders escaped from a prison in Kandahar Province in what the government described as a security "disaster."

The Taliban are fighting to overthrow the foreign-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani, expel foreign forces from Afghanistan, and impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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