Afghan troops retake prison attacked by Daesh, at least 29 killed

Afghan troops retake prison attacked by Daesh, at least 29 killed
Afghan security forces keep watch near the site of an attack on a jail compound in Jalalabad on August 3, 2020. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 03 August 2020

Afghan troops retake prison attacked by Daesh, at least 29 killed

Afghan troops retake prison attacked by Daesh, at least 29 killed
  • Attack began on Sunday evening with car bomb detonated at the entrance to the prison
  • Afghan special forces arrive to support police

JALALABAD, Afghanistan: Afghan forces said they retook a prison in the country’s east on Monday afternoon, following an hours-long battle a day after the facility was targeted by the Daesh group in an attack that killed 29 people. The prison is believed to be holding hundreds of Daesh members.
The attack highlighted the challenges ahead for Afghanistan, even as US and NATO forces begin to withdraw following America striking a peace deal with the Taliban.
Defense Ministry spokesman Fawad Aman said the prison was taken back in the afternoon. The fighting also left at least 50 wounded.
Even as Afghan troops seized the prison in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, some 115 kilometers (70 miles) east of Kabul, Daesh militants continued to fire on Afghan security forces from a nearby neighborhood.
Sporadic gunfire rang out from nearby residential buildings in central Jalalabad, an area of high security near the provincial governor's office.
As security forces swept through the prison, they found the bodies of two Taliban prisoners apparently killed by the Daesh group, showing the tensions between the two militant factions battling each other in eastern Afghanistan.
The 29 dead included civilians, prisoners, guards and Afghan security forces, said Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s spokesman.
The attack began Sunday, when a Daesh suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives up to the prison's main gate, detonating the bomb. Islamic State militants opened fire on the prison's guards and poured in through the breach.
The IS affiliate in Afghanistan, known as Daesh in Khorasan province and headquartered in Nangarhar province, later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Some of the 1,500 prisoners held at the prison in Jalalabad escaped during the fighting. Khyogyani said about 1,000 prisoners who earlier escaped had been found by security forces across the city. It wasn’t immediately clear if any prisoners were still at large.
The attack came a day after authorities said Afghan special forces killed a senior Daesh commander near Jalalabad. Several hundred prisoners in Jalalabad are believed to be Daesh members.
While the Daesh group has seen its so-called caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria eliminated after a yearslong campaign, the group has continued fighting in Afghanistan. The extremists also have battled the Taliban in the country, whom the US overthrew following the 2001 American-led invasion after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The Taliban’s political spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, told The Associated Press that his group was not involved in the Jalalabad attack. The US struck a peace deal with the Taliban in February. A second, crucial round of negotiations between the Taliban and the political leadership in Kabul has yet to start.
The Taliban had declared a three-day cease-fire starting last Friday for the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The cease-fire expired at 12 a.m. Monday, though it wasn’t immediately clear if it would be extended as the US pushes for an early start to intra-Afghan negotiations that have repeatedly been delayed since Washington signed the peace deal with the Taliban.
“We have a cease-fire and are not involved in any of these attacks anywhere in the country,” Shaheen said.
The Taliban also had denied being involved in a suicide bombing in eastern Logar province late Thursday that killed at least nine people and wounded 40.
Afghanistan has seen a recent spike in violence, with most attacks claimed by the local Daesh affiliate.


Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
Updated 23 January 2021

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests

Russia detains dozens of Navalny supporters at anti-Putin protests
  • The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia
  • Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed”

MOSCOW: Russian police detained dozens of protesters on Saturday as supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets following his call to protest against President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
Putin’s most vocal domestic critic called for mass rallies after surviving a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent and returning to Moscow last weekend following months of treatment in Germany. He was arrested at Sheremetyevo Airport and jailed.
The rallies — planned for dozens of cities across Russia — are expected to be a major test of the opposition’s ability to mobilize despite the increasing Kremlin pressure on critics and the coronavirus pandemic.
The first protests took place in the Far East and Siberia including Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Chita where several thousand took to the streets, Navalny supporters said.
OVD Info, which monitors detentions at opposition rallies, said around 50 people were detained in 10 cities.
Authorities vowed a tough crackdown with police saying unsanctioned public events would be “immediately suppressed.”
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest rallies, protesters plan to meet in the central Pushkin Square at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT) and then march toward the Kremlin.

On the eve of the rallies, Navalny, who is being held in Moscow’s high-security Matrosskaya Tishina jail, thanked his supporters.
“I know perfectly well that there are lots of good people outside of my prison’s walls and help will come,” he said on Friday.
Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share,” she said on Instagram.
Ahead of the demonstrations several key Navalny aides were taken into police custody for violating protest laws and handed short jail sentences to keep them away from the rallies.
The Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Friday it launched a criminal probe into the calls for unauthorized protests.
A hastily organized court on Monday jailed Navalny for 30 days, and his supporters fear that authorities are preparing to sentence him to a long prison term to silence him.
Navalny’s team this week released an investigation into an opulent Black Sea property allegedly owned by Putin.
The “Putin’s palace” report alleges the Russian leader owns a 17,691 square meter mansion that sits on a property 39 times the size of Monaco and features a casino along with a theater and a hookah lounge complete with a pole-dancing stage.
The two-hour video report had been viewed more than 65 million times since Tuesday, becoming the Kremlin critic’s most-watched YouTube investigation.
The Kremlin has denied the property belongs to Putin.
Many Russians took to social media — including video sharing app TikTok hugely popular with teens — to voice support and urge a large turnout on Saturday.
A hashtag demanding freedom for Navalny was trending on TikTok as Russians flooded the Chinese app with thousands of videos.
Russia’s media watchdog warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in the rallies or risk hefty fines.
The watchdog said on Friday that media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, removed content at its request.
Russia’s most popular social network VKontakte blocked groups created to coordinate the protests in different cities.
But a number of public figures — including those who usually steer clear of politics — have spoken out in Navalny’s support.
Navalny, 44, rose to prominence a decade ago and has become the central figure of Russia’s opposition movement, leading large-scale street protests against corruption and electoral fraud.
His arrest drew widespread Western condemnation, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.