At least 29 people were killed in an attack in Jalalabad. Several hundred inmates were able to escape from the prison.
The Islamic State / Province of Khorasan (ISKP), an Afghan spin-off from the terrorist group of the same name in the Middle East, has taken responsibility for the storming of the Jalalabad prison in the eastern province of Nangrahar (also known as Nangarhar). On Sunday evening, gunmen blew up the prison gate with a car bomb, allowing hundreds of prisoners to escape.
The attack, which began on the last day of a three-day ceasefire declared by the Taliban for the Islamic Festival of Victims, ended after 18 hours on Monday afternoon.
The authorities speak of 29 to 39 deaths and 50 injuries. Eight security forces and several prisoners were among the dead. Six attackers were also killed, four alone, when one of them detonated an explosive belt. Afghan media spoke of “at least 20” attackers. Many of the 1,700 prisoners were able to flee the attack, but over 1,000 were arrested again. Some also hired themselves. A video was circulating on social media about a man who said he was incarcerated for murder and only escaped for fear of the attackers.
Only the day before the attack, security forces in Jalalabad killed Assadullah Oraksai, a high-ranking member of the ISKP secret service. But the attack was probably not a direct reaction to it. Because such attacks require longer preparation. The attack once again shows that claims by the Afghan government are premature that the group was defeated after parallel but uncoordinated offensives by government forces and the Taliban last autumn and spring.
Most of the approximately 1,700 ISKP fighters who were hitherto were expelled from mountain valleys in their stronghold of Nangrahar: around 50 were killed, 350 surrendered, 350 more retreated to the neighboring province of Kunar and 150 to the border to Pakistan. According to the UN, there are still 2,000 fighters in Kunar, the second stronghold, including an unknown number of foreigners.
Previously there was credible evidence that the Afghan secret service supported at least individual ISKP groups against the Taliban. ISKP and the much stronger Taliban are fighting bitterly for leading the uprising in the country.
ISKP has been active in Afghanistan since the end of 2014 and is primarily recruited from renegade Pakistani Taliban. Three of the last four ISKP bosses were Pakistani, as was the killed Oraksai. They took advantage of tribal conflicts in the Afghan-Pakistani border area.
There was only a small influx of Afghan Taliban dissidents. Recently, more and more radicalized members of the Afghan middle class joined, the International Crisis Group reported in June. They would be recruited into Salafist mosques.
In recent years, the local population has lost patience with the ISKP’s extremely harsh regime. Its commanders had rows of tribal leaders and alleged spies killed. Local tribal militias turned to the government and Taliban to prevent ISKP militants from driving locals out of their homes.
The ISKP also has autonomous terrorist cells in cities like Kabul and Herat. In March, a single fighter stormed a Sikh temple in Kabul and killed 25 people. On Thursday, ISKP claimed responsibility for a serious car bomb attack in Logar province. The UN registered 17 ISKP attacks with civilian casualties in the first half of 2020 – a fifth of the same period last year.