Hundreds of prisoners escape as Afghan Taliban storm jail

Taliban insurgents stormed a prison in the central Afghan city of Ghazni, killing police and releasing hundreds of prisoners

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Taliban insurgents stormed a prison in the central Afghan city of Ghazni early on Monday, killing police and releasing hundreds of prisoners, police said.

A Reuters reporter at the scene 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 of the jail. It appeared almost all the prisoners had escaped.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said gunmen and three suicide bombers attacked the prison at 2 a.m. (2200 GMT Sunday) and freed 400 prisoners. The three bombers were killed, he said.

“Forty Afghan security forces and prison guards were killed in the prison break and important military mujahideen officials have been freed,” he said.

The Taliban often exaggerate casualty tolls in statements about attacks on government and foreign targets.

Mohammed Ali Ahmadi, deputy governor of Ghazni, said 352 prisoners had escaped, including around 150 Taliban. He said seven Taliban and four members of the Afghan security forces were killed in the attack in Ghazni, about 120 km (75 miles) southwest of the capital, Kabul.

Security officials would not confirm how many prisoners were in the jail or the number of casualties.

One security official said the attackers were wearing the uniforms of Afghan security forces.

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.

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